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Mappers and Packers [0930.1999]

I just found the most fascinating article called The Programmer's Stone. It talks about a pair of what NLP'ers might call metaprograms: "mapping" and "packing".

Mappers tend to create mental structures to help them understand the relationship between ideas. Packers simply collect information.

When mappers talk to each other, they tend to seek out each others maps, and when they discover that these maps match up, are able to communicate large amounts of information rapidly.

Packers tend to be more rule driven. They learn the rules for something, then follow those rules by acting upon them.

A major communication barrier occurs when mappers try to explain their maps to packers.. I personally tend to use the mapping metaprogram more.. One of my favorite questions is "how does X relate to Y?" (eg, how does an article on software programming relate to NLP?).. I've had trouble explaining my ideas to people at times and I never realized until just now that some people simply don't look for connections between things. They just collect information and act on it..

This is different than high-chunk/low-chunk thinkers... It simply has to do with whether chunks are habitually connected.


Suppose I want to learn Spanish. (I do.) .. To use a pure packing strategy, I'd memorize a lot of vocabulary and grammar [the way most schools approach language learning is a great example of packer mentality]..

However, with mapping, I might speed up my learning by making some more connections: talking like Speedy Gonzales (thanks, whoever posted that on this list), associating into memories of any encouters I've had with spanish in the past, watching spanish TV, reading spanish books and websites, talking to people in spanish.. I could also use on of the best memory tricks around: relating the spanish word to the concept.. (for example, I can imagine a big yellow canary shooting an apple pie with a crossbow.. "pie arrow" sounds pretty close to "El pajaro", the spanish word for "bird")..

Now that I've learned this distinction, I'm pretty pumped, because I can start applying it consciously. Eg, when explaining a map to someone in packer mode, I can simply lead them through the mapping process as I give them each piece of the map..

Huh.. I wonder what the second chapter of that essay's about... :)

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