The creation of a heuretic has two steps - conception and implementation

  1. Conception is the imaginative design of a heuretic
  2. Implementation is the actualization of the heuretic in the real world

The process of creating a new heuretic node is like building something out of legos.

More generally, the creation of a heuretic always has two steps. First you need to conceive that two other heuretics can be brought together and how they might connect - this is the eureka moment, the hunch, the idea, the concept. Second you need to actually connect the heuretics to create a new heuretic that can be used by someone else as a single unit, this is the implementation. For now let’s call the first step “concept” and the second “implementation.”

Concept and implementation vary wildly based on the heuretic. In math, the concept is the idea that you could prove something and generally what the pieces of the proof would entail while the implementation is writing down the proof itself. In scientific-method-based science, the concept is the hypothesis and the implementation is actually doing the experiment and analyzing the results. In technology, the concept is the design and the implementation is actually building the thing.

Similar to many other parts of the tech tree (The tech tree is fractal) lines between concept and implementation are fractal. Every time you zoom in on a fractal, it presents the same pattern on a different scale. So while a design could be just the concept step of a heuretic, the design can also be a heuretic itself. In the case where the design is in itself a heuretic, the “hunch” of which pieces should go together in the design is the concept. Implementation is just recursive conception until you can get to a conceived action that someone can do without coming up with a new thought. (Each node on the tech tree can recursively be decomposed into more nodes)

The amount of work needed by each steps varies significantly based on the heuretic. Some heuretics resemble Problems where it is easy to know whether an answer is correct but hard to get to that answer in that once you have the concept, implementation is trivial. For other heuretics, the majority of the work is in the implementation. To go back to the Lego analogy, it’s like knowing exactly where a piece needs to go but it’s way in the back of some small opening that requires you to either crack open the entire structure to use tweezers or something. The variable division of work between concept and implementation is one of the reasons that “ideas are cheap.” In many cases the division of work between concept and implementation is variable. The more precise the concept is, the easier the implementation. Make precise predictions, Precise communication enables other people to make decisions, More precise descriptions of technology could enable faster progress.

Just as you need to fiddle with a lego piece to get it to snap into place even when you know exactly where it needs to go, you often need to create new heuretics during the implementation of a heuretic. These new heuretics are often Learning by doing.

Clean, legible interfaces to heuretics make both concept and implementation easy and bad interfaces make them hard. Legos are such a joy because they’re basically the paragon of clean interfaces. Legible interfaces make it easier to grok the affordances of a heuretic, which makes it easier to conceive what you can combine with it. So while Creating legible interfaces is expensive, if you want your heuretic to be used, it is important to focus on legibility.

This notion that conception requires understanding of constituent heuretics ( Understanding a thing has to do with intuiting the affordances of a thing ) is important because it helps explain why people who have fuzzy ideas of how things work have trouble implementing their ideas.


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