The Field of Play (I)

Some thoughts on the field of play, where thinking happens and understanding grows:

MEDIA


I

In the professions related to imagining and making things, professions that are part of these and other fields: design, engineering, architecture, manufacturing, construction, in all such fields in which a thing exists, or will exist, media is involved, always. Some kind of medium, or various kinds of media always are present in the ideation of the thing, and in the development of the idea and its clarification. Whether the thing is simple or complex, and whether large or small: a chair, a car, a house, a hospital, a power plant, a bridge, a ship, a canoe, media always is in play, or is the field of play, where thinking happens and understanding grows.

Spanning all of the types of things (and their complexity) — ranging from the bottle that holds some carbonated water, to the heart valve implant, to the rocket engine, to the oil refinery, to the city, and back down in scale, to the house, the lamp, the shoe, and so on, the point is: all things; with all things that are looked at, thought of, imagined, developed, clarified, with all ideas brought to completion, with all ideas that are understood, and communicated, all ideas that are built/made, and used — all things that become things, become what they are through a process that spans from some kind of beginning ideation, and continues through with thought rolling on inexorably from where it begins, through a long series of attempts at making the idea clear and full, developing until satisfactory (of whatever criteria that matter). These attempts of course involve steps forward and backward, and many failed attempts, but a general trend toward some kind of desired state. This trend toward goal remains in play from beginning to end.

I want to say something about the beginning. Things nascent don’t appear in a vacuum. They don’t arise from nowhere and nothing. And so we should avoid being rigid in defining this “beginning”. It’s helpful maybe just to say, “it starts early.” Before anything, there’s a world, right? Some kind of conditions exist, and some kind of need(s). All of this is some kind of fog of beginning. Some people do approach this more literally. For them, a beginning arrives when a commission is won to do something: “design something that satisfies these requirements”. In any case, things begin in some foggy mist, and then are clarified.

And things also end. Again, it’s counterproductive to be rigid in definition here. We can say, maybe, that things end sometime after things are needed, imagined, made, used, and discarded. At some point we call it an end. But of course things don’t end, not finally; they’re in the world, and so may be part of any number of other beginnings, either lost in some mist of possible beginning, or starting to become clearly marked out by some particular new beginning.

All of this, above, is itself some kind of beginning, a bit of a fog, but a beginning no less, toward this point I want to make: Some kind of medium is always involved, as we initiate and formulate our ideas, as we develop them, as we understand them and build our understanding of them, as we clarify our ideas and communicate them, as we learn from those communications and use what we learn, to build or make what was imagined, and even as we use the things that first were imagined and then made.

Here then I discuss this media that is always in play at every step along the way, various kinds of media, what we use media for, how we use it, what’s going on, actually, in our minds when we’re using media, the status of media, it’s history, current state, and yes, prognostications for its future.

Go to: The Field of Play (II)