Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not as in fiction, to imagine things that are not really there, but just to comprehend those things that are there. Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law
I get a kick out of my MacMail message as it searches for new emails. "Finding unseen messages" seems so easy for it to do. Within seconds it either reports that there are no new messages or that I have something in my "in box." How I wish my mind could work like this! Einstein's comment: "The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education" certainly holds true with me. How is it that we become so trapped by our assumptions and what we have been told as truth that we often fail to see what is right in front of our face? I wish I had a reset button that would help me see what's in my inbox ... differently!
Kevin Kelly, in his book Out of Control talks about 'search images'. It takes time to see differently. We must stop looking for what we expect to see before we see what is really there. Kelly tells the story of Steve Packard, an expert in ecology, especially in prairie ecosystems. His mentor had been the founder of the concept of ecosystems. Packard sets off to restore a prairie in Illinois. His initial ideas didn't work. He could not produce success out of his head ... Packard had to drop his educational knowledge and come to know his quest for restoration by asking a question from a different vantage point: "What does the prairie want?" What is it that it seeks? This question started Packard on a new journey ... he began to see that things he thought were not part of a prairie were just what the prairie needed in order to get its footing in place and attract the birds and insects. It seems that Packard engaged with the prairie rather than trying to control it and do things to it. Packard became a designer instead of an expert.
I don't always want to recognize my designer mind. I get impatient. Often I just want things to work because I tell them too ... or because they always have. Yet, when I do open to it, it is fun and challenging. I see possibilities that were not there just minutes before! New patterns emerge, algorithms lead to new results. My brains "in box" receives different kinds of messages! Last year (December, 2005) sitting around the dinning room table, Todd, Matt, Elisa and I developed a Shift paper to capture the essence of the design process. Hundreds of people have downloaded this shift paper and found it handy.
You Tube, MySpace, pod casts, Second Life ... are all tools that individuals and groups are using to see differently and to spark others to see differently. Are they useful tools? You bet! It may take searching through lots of useless stuff, but generally my heuristic searching lands a bingo! My world expands. I gather something useful for the designer part of my mind to put to work.