The discussion I’ve been having with Jeff on the issue of efficiency shows up the strengths and the weaknesses of attempting to influence people through a single voice. He found something here to engage with, but in the end a simple back-and-forth will not lead too far. This is why I hope to have this forum develop into a place with a multitude of voices. The point is not to make a stand and defend it against opponents or those who might disagree, but to create a multivalent experience where people can find a variety of entry points and can themselves influence how things proceed.
I am being deliberately obtuse to a certain extent. It would be fairly easy to lay out a plan, to say “this will be an online magazine, or this will be a chat-room, or a collection of papers.” All that I know is that none of these is sufficient as a model for what this can be. As a result, not knowing, I’d rather talk around the matter and see what develops. Then I can respond, and adjust and then proceed.
This brings to mind one of the most influential papers I’ve ever read, John Boyd’s Destruction and Creation. I urge anyone who’s even considering giving this place a second look to download and read it. It’s short, it’s dense, but it is refreshingly clear of jargon and breathtaking in its scope. Boyd is the kind of thinker I’ve taken as a model for myself; Boyd, Leonardo da Vinci (sans codes), Charles Darwin, John Berger, David Abrams… Right now these top my list, without getting too exhaustive about it! What they share is a commitment to engagement with their realities and a restlessness to go beyond received notions. They are synthetic thinkers that bring together wide ranging and seemingly disparate elements to reach insights that open up our abilities to encompass ever more dynamic viewpoints.
Enter into this from whatever point you find yourself to be. A big part of my responsibility here is to find a way to meet that entry and move the process forward towards greater engagement. I will be a nag, but I won’t intentionally stymie any sincere entry. At the base of what design can be is the need to establish and maintain trust among participants so we can remain involved, stay flexible, be willing to make a difficult case and equally willing to admit error. In effect creating a sense of community, of shared purpose and mutual respect.
Design is important, it can be crucial, it can be at the cutting edge of how we find a way forward in these challenging times. To meet that challenge is a matter of making distinctions, of drawing conclusions, of dealing with contingencies and engaging with the human spirit and the physical, material world. If we accept this challenge and take on the scope of inquiry and the range of action this all implies, we can make a difference.
That is my hope…