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Post #1344

Week 245

It’s one of those weeks where I find it hard to remember what’s happened.

Jack and Matt J are in San Francisco, so there have been a lot of Skype calls between us.

Timo is here too, working on El Morro. He’s sitting in the second room which is called Statham. Campbell is in Statham too. He was sitting at Jack’s desk which is next to, and at right angles to mine, but changed yesterday. Nick is sitting at Jack’s desk. At Nick’s old desk is James who started Thursday. Bringing James in at this point was perfect timing. His presence is a forcing move to the project specification being refined, clarified, and better explained.

James is sitting opposite Tom. To the right of James and to the left of Tom is a sofa from Muji. On the sofa from Muji are two desks from Unto This Last partially assembled. These desks are half as long again as the ones at which James and Tom are sitting, and will replace those desks this afternoon. One of the old shorter desks will go into Statham. The other will go into the shared meeting room.

To the right of Tom is Matt B. He hasn’t moved. Opposite Matt B is Matt J’s desk which cannot be occupied. It is piled with books and files and whatnot, all of which used to be underneath the desk. But on Tuesday the studio flooded, and so the rest of the week has been punctuated by gurglings from the plug of the sink (which is where the water came from), and negotiations between the landlord and Tom Taylor, with whom we share. There’s going to be a pump and pipe put in so the sink leads to a separate drainage point. The current drainage point also has a feed from the roof so when it rains and the drain is blocked, our sink is the water’s only means of egress.

“Egress” sounds like the name of a sea bird.

During the development of Shownar, this time last year, we found ourselves having to refer very precisely to weird abstract concepts that arose from the data. To have conversations without misunderstandings, we made up words and put a long dictionary on the wall with the title “Teach yourself Dutch.” Because for some reason the project lingo got called Dutch.

It’s not really Dutch. It’s English. But to an English speaker listening in on us talking in this lingo, it wouldn’t be comprehensible.

El Morro has its own Dutch. Dutch, the project lingo, is never just a shorthand. It expresses things that, eventually, cannot be fully expressed in regular English. It ends up having its own grammar, and members of the team end up having to become fluent speakers of it.

In El Morro, a good part of Dutch – the dictionary, if you like – is defined in a spec which is 11 pages long. Timo is learning how to speak Dutch, and practises every day. Whereas we’ve written the dictionary, he’s inventing the idioms. He might need new words, in which case we’ll revise the dictionary. It’s funny, this process of inventing Dutch, because in a few weeks we’ll have a much larger team and everyone will need to speak it. It’ll start to carry meanings of its own, and its structure will encourage particular kinds of new Dutch poetry, poetry that we never imagined.

When I speak about ecological management, this is one of the things I mean. The invention of the right kind of Dutch can steer the project creatively without explicit directing. Just as the ambient knowledge and visibility of studio activity helps people operate with autonomy and agency with respect to running and selling projects. I’m not great at ecological management yet, but it’s the star by which I measure myself.

It is after lunch.

We have now assembled the new desks and everyone and everything has moved around. There are eleven seats in the studio. We have run out of the good chairs again.

3 Comments and Trackbacks

  • 1. Nestor said on 21 February 2010...

    Reminds me of the aliens in the Mote in God’s eye, they were superintelligent so they made up languages on the fly for specific projects.

    They also had to get pregnant constantly or they died so I guess you’re way ahead of them.

  • 2. Above All said on 23 February 2010...

    Time to buy a few more chairs…eh?

  • Trackback: Tom Armitage » Week 24 1 April 2013

    […] worth noting the domain vocabulary cropping up – Atomize, Ingest, Explode. At Berg, we referred to project languages as Dutch. It’s no problem that a project has its own language – but it’s important that […]

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