You can't see the pattern and weave it at the same time

In LeGuin’s “A Man of the People,” the protagonist contemplates the possibility of societal change in a world in he is assigned to observe. Called to be an emissary of progress and change by the women of the world, he realizes:

You can’t change anything from the outside in. Standing apart, looking down, taking the overview, you see pattern. What’s wrong, what’s missing. You want to fix it. But you can’t patch it. You have to be in it, weaving it. You have to be part of the weaving.

As IAs, we may be called upon to look down and take the overview of other people’s behavior. Being able to see the patterns that most people are too close to is important and valuable work. Understanding a problem and fixing it can be different activities and need different skills. As an IA, it may be within my power to fix an interface or a data structure, but I need to make sure I’m supporting it with corresponding changes to the constant activities and decisions that will make it permanent (or undo it immediately).


Ingold, T. (1993). The temporality of the landscape. World Archaeology, 25(2), 152–174.

Le Guin, U. K. (2004). Four ways to forgiveness: Stories (1st Perennial ed). Perennial.