Friends, I hope you’re well and in good health.
Is the virus going to make us hyperlocal or more globally connected?
Some signifiers from the past week:
- most companies are now remote for most of March
- huge surge in working–from-home
- including those who are not used to working remotely, as are freelancers say
- with commuting time removed, most people will have a lot more free time (ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours)
- conferences canceled or postponed, marketing and sale activities on hold: plenty of time for research, learning and planning
It is an interesting question to consider on both the system and medium levels.
On a system level
Systems are generally either formal or informal: a company is a formal system: which one is initiated into through a hiring process; where a line to the elevator or an online webinar is an informal one.
An adjacent attribute is open–endedness and close–endedness.
A gathering of neighbors in a building is informal but close–ended*.
On a Medium Level
A medium is made of language, artifact and systems. If before we used to communicate with our colleagues and customers using in-person meetings, presentations and workshops we are now going to be using digital text-based communication and video. This is true for both formal (teaching a class online) and informal (meeting for lunch hour) systems.
There is a shift in artifacts as well: moving from a white board to a laptop, as well as a shift from a well–equipped commercial space to the home office (in a good scenario) or a sofa, while taking care of kids for other people.
We are seeing an array of informal support groups: from design educators gathering in an impromptu Slack (link) to pop up webinars and lunch hour zooms (we’re organizing one next week).
What will that mean–in the short and medium term? Will these communities foster new (online, mediated) connections beyond the immediate crisis?
Will the echoing effect of social distancing result in more intimate gatherings? The interim period ‘after the crisis’ and before ‘back to normal’ will mean that people will be seeking human connection, and could foster those in new forms, and with new people (think more dinners, meet–ups, neighborhood gatherings), especially with warmer weather on its way.
What will slower travel and international supply chain mean for local bodegas and businesses?
Just some thoughts in these uncertain times.
If you find yourself with enough wavelength to consider some of these questions, while trying to be productive at home, I would love to hear your experience.
Please get in touch by responding to this email.
Thank you for reading.
* I have yet to find an example of an informal open–ended system: so I suspect that there is a generalization hiding here.