Knowing with New Media



Leonardo da Vinci, ‘liked to boast that because he was not formally educated, he had to learn from his own experiences instead’ (Isaacson, 2017, p. 170). He wrote: ‘He who has access to the fountain does not go to the water-jar’ (as cited in Isaacson, p. 170). It's unlikely Leonardo was dismissing the importance of the ‘water-jar’.

Elaborating on the analogy, the water jar can be seen as the distilled substance of water in a fountain—a convergence of the whole into a manageable concise abstract.

If Leonardo's  first step was to ‘consult experience’ and ‘with reasoning show why such experience is bound to operate in such a way’ (p. 173), then his method can be seen as the inverse  of traditional education.

He used his curiosity as a catalyst to lead him to the treasures of established knowledge. Leonardo capitalised on visualisation, his most efficient natural tools, to record his empirical studies and embody his thoughts. He used them to link his experience with theory. This method made him an avant-garde thinker of his time leading to the modern, theory experiment approach in research practices (p. 175).

The current natural and socio-cultural conditions are often described as
a VUCA environment, which stands for: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. In the Ripples model, these aspects form a dynamic infrastructure — the complex ripplework.

Complexity = volatility + uncertainty + ambiguity

Complexity is enmeshed in every aspect of learning. Perpetual and exponential technological changes provoke disruptions and create new formations in all domains of human activity. This disseminates diversity, fluctuation, messiness and domination of chance over the principle of cause-and-effect.

In biology, an organism striving for equilibrium enters a state described as being at 'the edge of the chaos'.  At the point of an increased flow of matter and energy, or 'critical point of instability' as explained by the Nobel Laureate, Ilia Prigogine (1977), systemic self-organisation occurs. It produces a new, more sophisticated form of interaction between the organism and its surroundings.
In other words, as Capra (2002) explains:

[…] the generation of new forms is a key property of all living systems. And since emergence [self-organization] – […]
Life constantly reaches into novelty. (p. 14)

The Ripples pedagogy translates the principle of the living system  engaged in a continuous interaction with its environment, which results in ongoing self-organisation and formation of novelty, into a knowledge production model.

At the foundation of ripplework learning is the rippling circularity: divergence convergence.

This implies that the process of knowledge production unfolds through diverse explorations of data, distilling these into new patterns congruous with the directed inquiry. Overlapping this process are oscillations between individual curiosity and () conventional wisdom.

The process involves taking a deliberate risk by challenging conventional wisdom and fluctuating back to confirm the integrity of the gathered knowledge and its relevance to a set task.


Complexity and self-organisation

In a world of exponentially increasing complexity, the ability to continuously draw order from chaos is found
in the mastery of self-organisation.

The generation of knowledge occurs through negotiations at multiple divergent dimensions by generating data, interpreting and theorising it, then converging it
in accordance with individual potentiality.



'Order arise from chaos'.

Prigogine, 1997

Essential Ripples:

Chaos Order

Far-from-equilibrium Self-organisation

Divergence Convergence

Individual Curiosity Conventional Wisdom

Theory Experiment

Ilya Prigogine


Fridjof Capra



Walter Issacson






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