Postdictable, the commercials

by | Thursday, October 15, 2009

I had written earlier about the idea of “postdictable” which was defined as something that is “surprising initially, but then understandable with a bit of thought.” It lies at the spot between predictability and total chaos. The movie Sixth Sense is postdictable in the best sense of the world. Good teaching I believe needs to be postdictable. That is what keeps us engaged, keeps us waiting for more, the payoff as it were. And best of all, once all the pieces are in, we can’t wait to go back and review everything again, to see just how beautifully the whole thing holds together. There is a strong aesthetic component to this – a sense of wholeness, closure, elegance, and inevitability. Good poems have this quality, as do mathematical theorems. A well crafted lecture or a lesson plan has this quality as well. In my mind these ideas are closely tied to the Dewey’s idea of experience and to the idea of design. Hopefully I will have a chance to explore these connections in a later post but for now, here are a couple of commercials that I think were postdictable in a really cool kind of way.



Incidentally the Explore, Create & Share series of videos I made with my kids attempt to capture some of these same qualities!

A few randomly selected blog posts…

Self-similarity in math & ambigrams 3/3

Self-similarity in geometry is the idea of repeating a similar shape (often at a different scale) over and over again. In other words, a self-similar image contains copies of itself at smaller and smaller scales, such as the image below of the word "zoom."...

Day 3: Meetings & Workshop

Day 2 ended with my meeting KHari (aka Chairman) and Rags (aka Chore) - two BITS batchmates, whom I hadn't met in almost 18 / 20 years. It was great catching up with them - but what that meant was that by the time I got back to my room I was totally exhausted and...

More sketches

A few weeks ago I had blogged about my experiments with sketching on a Wacom graphics tablet. Here are more sketches I have created in the meanwhile. You can see them here as a webpage or view it as a slide show.

On merging with our technologies (Unpacking McLuhan 4/3)

On merging with our technologies (Unpacking McLuhan 4/3)

This is the fourth of what was supposed to be a three post-series about how media influence our thinking. The first post, uses the invention of writing and print to unpack the meaning of McLuhan’s statement, “The medium is the message.” The second post, focuses on a...

David Zola, Educator Extraordinaire

David Zola, Educator Extraordinaire

A teacher affects eternity—Henry Adams I remember the first time I saw David Zola teach. He was on stage in front of 200+ undergraduate students with a plastic cup of wine in his hand. The wine had been poured for him by a teaching assistant from a bottle hidden in a...

Ganapati 08, Photos

As un-official photographer for the Marathi Group, I took a bunch of pictures of this year's Ganapati celebrations. These are now (finally) on Flickr. Enjoy.

Psychology & torture: A sad mix

Martin Seligman is one of the most eminent psychologists alive today. As his wikipedia page says, "He is well known for his work on the idea of "learned helplessness", and more recently, for his contributions to leadership in the field of Positive Psychology." He has...

Playing with Droste (on my iPad)

I have, for a long time, been interested in the Droste effect - a "specific kind of recursive picture... [in which] an image exhibiting the Droste effect depicts a smaller version of itself in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear....

Jared Diamond on creativity, innovation and wealth

Jared Diamond has an article on, somewhat provocatively titled: How to get rich? The question his after is simply, "what is the best way to organize human groups and human organizations and businesses so as to maximize productivity, creativity, innovation,...


  1. Patrick Diemer

    Those videos were great but your explanation of how it relates to teaching was better. Please keep on posting!

    • Punya Mishra

      Thanks Patrick. You know you are an educator when you tend to see everything (and I mean everything) through the lens of teaching and/or learning.



  1. Making Teaching suspenseful and post-dictable – A reflection task « explore. create. share. - [...] line between predictability and chaos, and most importantly makes sense post hoc. See these posts here and here on…
  2. Rethinking homework, some thoughts… | Punya Mishra's Web - [...] Designing for anticipation, Teaching for anticipation | Punya Mishra's Web on Postdictable, the commercialssharmila on Demotivational postersmapquest directions on…
  3. Designing for anticipation, Teaching for anticipation | Punya Mishra's Web - [...] Stories, Teaching, Worth Reading | 3 Comments » Other related posts and pages: |Postdictable, the commercials | Teaching design,…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *