Does technology make us more like ourselves or more like everyone else?
When we text a friend using a digital device we can only show up in a limited number of ways.
When we go an improv class, we gain more ways of showing up.
Or when Shaun Leonardo brought together victims of gun violence, police officers, army veterans, and recreational gun users for a conversation for a conversation no one was allowed to speak – they had to find new ways of showing up.
That is an example of a medium which forces you to be creative.
Automation will eat up those who can’t write new ways of showing up. In that future we will all need to step away from our comfort zone, and the mediums we use have a deep, yet invisible impact on our creativity
So what is a medium?
McLuhan famously said that the medium is the message, another way of saying that is ‘we don’t know who discovered water but it was not a fish’.
Is the technology we're using daily pulling us into the deep dark water, allowing us to swim close to the surface, or even better, lets us jump up for perspective and then come back down?
Mediums consist of:
- Language: Visual, Verbal, or machine based
- Artifacts: Manual, digital or spatial
- Systems: Cultural, societal or informal
Some mediums keep us in the water, pushing us deeper into confusing situations and take away our abilities to write new ways of showing up.
Some keep us closer to the surface of the water by giving us existing tools and methods to remix, and add to the way we show up.
But some let us jump out of the water and come back in, getting that all important inside out predictive.
These are meta tools because they let us look at ourselves and our context from the outside.
A running list of principles when thinking about mediums:
Position vs condition
You are not where you are - the same way that travel is about how far you go, but the transformational effect it has on you, the work you do is only as good as the developmental value it hold for you
Mediation vs mediation
Does technology mediate you away from meaning in your life or ask you to understand your context more deeply.
Are you pulled into a narrower corridor, or are you able to gain a bird eye view of your lived experience?
‘Who am I’ vs ‘what am I’
Do mediums ask you to be a one monolithic, narrow persona–an average of yourself–or do they ask they you to articulate yourself in new ways?
Binary vs spectral
And lastly, does technology only let you be a binary being, with polarizing views, or does it allow you to be a spectral thinker, capable or navigating liminal, and forming spaces?
For what is creativity if not making meaning from ambiguity.
This is the true meaning of an exponential world: an explosion of taxonomies of meaning.
Thank you for reading.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.