Five things I’m thinking right now

Late in the last decade I promised a blog post on the idea of the prospectus, of writing about something before you write about it.  This is not that post, but I think it’s related.

I also flirted with the noble idea of writing personal weeknotes, until I researched the subject in depth and realised just how many weeks there are in year. Did you know there’s a new one every seven days? I don’t know how people, erm, manage it.

So this thing of “five things I’m thinking right now” suits me fine. It unburdens my “blog” tag in Remember the Milk, while leaving the door ajar to return to any and all of the following at some unspecified time.

Five things I’m thinking about right now:

  1. There’s a lot more to paper than books, magazines and newspapers. For example, Proboscis’s Storycubes encourage us to create six-sided, stackable, remixable stories, incredibily easily. Because there’s more than one side to every story. At the Sh! Awards we saw what happens when you let design students loose with a laser cutter. One day soon these things will be as cheap and plentiful as sewing machines. The future will be full of holes.
  2. A story is extra-strong in the place where it actually happened – even if that place has changed a lot in the intervening period. That’s why I’m hoping to do something fun with the tale of James Watt and Matthew Murray in and around Holbeck on the weekend of Heritage Open Days. Not sure quite how it’s going to work out, but it will probably involve paper, pencils, optional mobile phones, and maybe some green sand.
  3. There’s still loads of great content frozen up in old formats. I’m thinking photocopied “history of our area” pamphlets that sell for 50p in local hardware shops, typewritten family histories, meticulously indexed stamp albums and all the rest of the produce of freely-given labour. The millions of articles that have made it onto Wikipedia are just the tip of this iceberg, no, glacier, of stuff. Meanwhile there’s a new generation thirsty for stories about their ancestors, communities and cities if only they could get them in handy web-sized, location and context aware chunks. The location/old photo mash-up such as Historypin is just one way this could happen.
  4. Every storyteller starts out as a listener. When a writer and a reader get together amazing things happen in the reader’s head, including a desire to write stuff themselves. As publishing online and in print becomes easier, more readers will act on this impluse. What are the triggers that transform curiosity into creativity? How can we lower the barriers to writing, narrow the gap between reader and writer, and put more people in control of their own stories?
  5. Constant change as a characteristic of service. By which I mean, I’ve never bought into the techno-determinist myth of ever-increasing pace of change. Change has always been with us, just not evenly distributed. What has changed in the world of change is the scope for services to adapt, morph and dance in endless variations. In so doing they acquire resilience. I’m inspired by John Ruskin’s elevation of “changefulness” as a feature of Gothic architecture. No two gargolyes the same. Media and fashion products have always known this: they’re only as good as their latest edition or collection. As our communications, travel, living, heath and eduction approach a weightless state, why wouldn’t they too be reconceived as media and fashion?

And that’s my five things.

2 thoughts on “Five things I’m thinking right now

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