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January 08, 2010

Failure to Connect the Dots

Today's Wall Street Journal carries this news about a recent snafu:

Connecting the dots, or pattern recognition, is something humans are supposed to be good at. It's an essential survival skill, and it's the subject of much research. While individuals are excellent at pattern recognition, organizations don't seem to be very good at it at all.

On 12/23, before the Detroit attack, I blogged about alternative New York magazine covers that summarized the decade. I really liked the one that summarized the decade through an image of connected dots because that was the phrase for the failures that led to 9/11, and I thought we'd been trying to make ourselves a connect-the-dots decade.

I also liked the artist's work because it suggested that reality is a probability distribution, if you think about the dots as waves rather than particles, and at times that's a good way to look at things.

In the aftermath of the Detroit attack on NWA flight 253, an Airbus 330, and recognizing that we failed at pattern recognition in both 2001 and 2009, I've revised the artist's depiction.

I wanted to include a video of PeeWee Herman playing "connect the dots" on Magic Screen, but for the first time YouTube gave me bupkis.

From cartoonist Steve Benson:


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