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Aesthetics and Informatics

The Art of Information for Policy-making and Community-building (Part #1)

Proposal for an Exploratory International Conference on Arranging a Marriage between Beauty and the Beast. Adapted extract from Poetry-making and Policy-making: Arranging a Marriage between Beauty and the Beast (1993)

1. Preamble
Considerations of scope
Considerations of focus: vital distinctions
Practical steps

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1. Preamble
In a period when the art of governance has proven distinctly inadequate to the challenges of the times, it is appropriate to explore radical new approaches which may offer new insights.

A significant number of policy-makers, including the current Director- General of UNESCO, are also artists, poets and musicians. Heads of State from Jimmy Carter to Ho Chi Minh have valued expression of their insights in poetry. The unexplored question is whether there are new ways of integrating the cognitive approaches to music-making, poetry-making and making insightful new policy. This could suggest new, and less alienating, approaches to policy-making -- which, hopefully, could be more appropriate to the complex challenge of the times.

Ironically it is in the classic traditions of China and Japan that poetry-making and policy-making are most intimately combined. The ability to write poetry was an attribute of the policy-makers of the time -- if not a requirement. In the Western tradition, poetry was an art practised by Roman Emperors.

With the major increase in the role of electronic information for decision-making, public participation and entertainment, there is a strong case for focusing on unexplored possibilities of deriving insights from art to imrove the quality and appeal of policy-making. This is especially important when people increasingly have to find new ways of encoding insights to bypass the challenges of information overload and information underuse.

The preponderant role of the media in influencing the political climate of modern times is now augmented by the direct role of the Web as a purveyor of challenging imagery concerning political themes. However, aesthetics have not been adapted to develop new patterns of insights enabling new forms of sustainable action. have not been adapted to develop new patterns of insights enabling new forms of sustainable action.