Back to top

Go Meta

Hamed Saber

Sometimes we benefit from changing to a wider lens of analysis: from tactics to strategy, this year's planning to a ten-year horizon, or from content to process reflection. If the current level of focus seems inadequate, consider shifting outward.


Cautions & Caveats
Overuse of this pattern prevents anything from actually getting done.


Douglas Hofstadter uses meta as a stand-alone word, both as an adjective and as a directional preposition ("going meta", a term he coins for the old rhetorical trick of taking a debate or analysis to another level of abstraction, as in "This debate isn't going anywhere."). This book is also probably responsible for the direct association of "meta" with self-reference, as opposed to just abstraction. The sentence "This sentence contains thirty-six letters," and the sentence it is embedded in, are examples of sentences that reference themselves in this way.