The concept of a Domain is much like the concept Category, and is a very difficult idea to define, but is very intuitive in use. A Domain is any set of concepts which "hang together", or reinforce or interact with each other in the matter up for analysis or synthesis. Like I said, it's much easier to use than talk about and around.

The equation $ F = G (M1 M2 / s^2) $ describes a set of relationships between various concepts in terms of variables, constants, and units associated with those values. This equation then could be said to make reference to the Gravitational Domain. Force, Mass, and Displacement are all concepts around which we could form other domains, but here they exist in the gravitational domain. Once we have mastered some of the fundamentals, we can start linking domains together.

Tool 1

This is a handy example of a cognitive domain that I use all the time. If you can see it as existing in 3D, that helps. I hope to replace this proto-diagram with something better soon, thanks for your patience. P:D








Tool 2

There is a Domain called "C3IR"(Tactical Domain), which is an elaboration on the military concepts of Command (Do what I say) and Control(Don't do anything you haven't been ordered to do, at least nothing drastic). In addition, C3IR includes the concepts of Communication, Intelligence, and Resources. But what about C4I, you ask? Well, roughly the same idea, but with a greater emphasis on Strategy rather than Tactics. Command, Control, Communication, Intelligence, and Computation are the elements of the Strategic Domain. Below C3IR, we can place the Battlefield itself (or at least a rough approximation).

So here goes (proto-diagram follows):


Communication(S) Command(S) Control(S)


Communications(T) Command(T) Control(T)

Allied Resources

Signals(B) Dominance(B) Initiative(B)

Opposition Resources

and thus the three Domains are merged, each is extended, and they are far more useful for an overview of how the system (supposedly) ought to work. This process could be further extended by Domains such as Branch (of Service), Department (of Defense), Cabinet Position (Secretary of Defense), Executive Branch, Government, Nation, Society, Shared Culture, and Inter-Cultural. Note that "Inter-Cultural" and "Battlefield" both mark the boundaries between groups which are entangled in a mixed-motive situation, with the structure of the Opposition being more or less similar. This schema applies to real warfare between nation-states, but with a simple substitution of Domains, it could apply to any other kind of conflict, such as between individuals, corporations, or political parties or interests. A schema of the state of conflict between the U.S. and Iran can be found here.

Note also that working from the bottom up seems to give much better results, that are quickly apparent in their usefulness. Top-down domains are rather cumbersome, and tend to be too rigid to be of much use. They also are almost universally begun from somewhere way beyond anyone's intellectual or physical mastery. I have an example of a Domain which starts to illustrate some of these problems.

This is it:

Tool 3


Kind of cool, huh? But note that it doesn't say much useful about our everyday life, does it? However, if you imagine rolling it up in a tube, from top to bottom, until Kether and Primal Unknown overlap, you get this.

NEW ADDITION: "Path Dependency" can be described on this diagram as extending from the Sublime Emergence (discovery of principles), through Dynamic of Evolution (formation of a technique) and Enduring Forms (adaptation as a standard) to Malkuth (physical existence and commonplace use). Our awareness of, or obliviousness to, the continuing use of historic techniques, their original contexts, and the loss of value of techniques which are past their prime due to Ceaseless Change, are outlined from Yesod (logic, thought), through Tiphareth (awareness of Quality), Da'ath (re-examination of assumptions) and Craftsmanship (an artistic, expert, and finely detailed balance of design considerations) to Kether (moral responsibility for outcomes under our supervision). Path dependency may have a strong relationship to Wicked Problems, assuming that we collectively are often oblivious to common performances which were designed in an historic context which may no longer apply.

You can even nest boxes, to show that Domains and Systems can be found or used inside each other, in a cascade. Like so:

Nested Domains

Yes, that's a scan of a crumpled piece of paper that was riding in my pocket for awhile. It could just as easily have been a napkin! I cleaned it up a bit with MSPaint, but otherwise it's pretty much as I originally and feverishly scribbled it. Be glad it wasn't done in coffee or crayon. P:D

Cognitive Domains and Academic Disciplines

If we think of academic disciplines as a special case of cognitive domains, then the increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, and the felt need to examine previous work from new vantage points, begins to make a lot of sense. Academic disciplines have arisen historically from the need to address new circumstances. Let's take for example, the history of the petroleum industry.

A quick read of Wikipedia's Edwin Drake page (especially the section concerning drilling for oil) reveals just how far the modern petroleum industry has come from it's formative days. Let's make this clear from the start:


All the academic disciplines that we know today, concerning petroleum drilling, processing, or anything else basically, were being invented here through pure trial-and-error.

Referring to "Tool 1" above, the problem facing Drake was very bottom-up -- perceptive, instinctive, intuitive, and conative skills all predominate here.

Designing Domains

If you take even a passing glance at the domains I've constructed above, you'll notice a simple design theme. This is not the only possible design, nor is it necessarily the best, but I thought it would be handy to outline my methodology and its merits.

First, we have some central concepts which might best be said to hew the closest to a concept of "harmony" or "balance". These are the principles central to the domain or system, and tend to be an anchoring point for the other principles. These central principles can be arranged along a vertical or horizontal line of symmetry. I tend to arrange mine on a vertical line, as the other principles are used to demonstrate tensions within hierarchical layers of time, importance, or abstraction. These secondary principles, in turn, become the mobile and dynamic elements of the domain or system, and tend to be used to explain this change or dynamic as a function of oppositional forces which act as limits upon each other.

Example and Analysis

As an example, let's make an analysis of Tool 2, and see how these design principles work. Starting from the bottom, we have the real and perceived resources of the opponent. The real resources of our adversary may not all be disclosed to us, and can be faked as well, but some of these features will be disclosed, and these are the things that our forces can size up and react to, and the same holds true for the other party. Between friendly and hostile forces, there exists a tension of taking the initiative, and tipping your hand to the enemy by giving them signals as to your intentions. Since both of these factors together (perhaps alongside others that haven't been included here) contribute directly to who has a distinct advantage outside of the actual forces brought to bear (which would be crucial but incidental to a particular battle), they flank the concept of battlefield Dominance. The deliberate use of both Signals and Initiative can alter the course of a battle. This preferred state is Dominance; placing your opponent upon a course of action in which his forces are strictly reacting to your tactics, and thereby leading him into making a large strategic error, or many tactical errors, or both.

Any attempt to make the enemy react to your engagement, without the capability of forming a response of his own choosing (Dominance) requires careful planning and execution of a concerted effort, and may require a high level of centralization of the overall command system and structure. However, it also requires that such a Command have the latest and best information concerning the enemy at its disposal. Thus we come to Communication, Command, Control, and Intelligence. Battlefield reports are commonly relayed to a higher level of command, with a wider view of the battle, and perhaps the war. There the overall view of the battle is updated, coordinated with the events of other battles, and a decision made as to how the battle forces ought to proceed. The tactical command receiving these orders must communicate these orders to their troops, time their actions so that these actions occur properly, and are responsible for avoiding strategic and tactical errors within their own purview. Command, Control, and Communications at the tactical level are all necessary to these efforts. The rest of the example is left to the interested student as an exercise. P:D


While Domains are themselves static, even where they address dynamic events, Systems are dynamic, and are better appreciated in a multi-dimensional space. Every system has a state and a vector in this space, and a stable system tends to orbit between a minimum and maximum sphere (in a 3D analogy). If we break systems down into component parts, they become a cloud of dots in this same orbit, but possibly taking up unusual "orbits" due to differing functions. We could take related systems and put them in the same space, even if they seemed to overlap, as they need not behave as solid objects within the model. Parts of one system would interact in some way with parts of other systems, and this would be normal for many systems as they behave in the real world. It would take quite a bit of work to take this poetic description and turn it into a computer or mathematical model, but you can start to see the power it would have.