Welcome to Emerging Futures — Volume 45! 12 Propositions for Exaptive Practices...
Good Morning Exapters!
The world has been pretty hot this week. Not a great thing. We hope that you are finding new and better ways to get things cooler. Soaking a bandana in cold water and putting that on the neck helps.
Speaking of water — here in our local waterways the Humpback whales are back in the harbor. Mainly teenagers eating menhaden. It is a wonderful thing to have whales in Newark bay and traveling about the Hudson like all the other regular commuters (birds, butterflies, viruses, amazon boxes and people…).
It has been an interesting week on our end. We just concluded a brilliant 2-Day Workshop: Creative Practices for Advanced Digital Design and Fabrication. We provided a new, radically simple method for teaching digital tools of innovation that delivers real results in the classroom. Built on the pillars of innovation, creativity, and the Innovation Design Approach, our 2-day workshop flipped traditional education models. We demonstrated in real time how educators don't need to spend months teaching students every feature of digital modeling tools before students begin getting radically creative — designing, making, and printing truly novel (and even exaptive) objects.
"One of the best workshops I have attended in my 6 years of teaching. The two days met different concerns... Thank you!" ~ Matthew Ducker-Duffy
We hope that after last week’s newsletter you felt compelled to try out some experiments in origami. We made some interesting experiments with hinged boxes (there many really great very different designs— here is one that is both quite involved and really robust. And here is another favorite. But, please Google around, a really interesting area to explore. We would love to see any designs you did! (Please share).
During the week we get up early — usually around 5 and take a few hours before the day gets busy – to sense, reflect and write in the midst of our daily practices of doing and experimenting.
Throughout the week we make notes and talk about the newsletter. Settling on a topic and testing things out early in the week across various mediums. We deliberately don’t write things far in advance or reuse what we already have written. Our writing practice is part of our daily practice of experimenting and working within creativity and innovation. As such it needs to be in an intimate dialog — and be in a relay with the rest of what we are doing during the week — getting ahead of practice with concepts draws one out of the agency of the event of creativity and how it might remake us.
Most of our daily writing gets published on Linkedin – it’s a great way to test and experiment in real-time some of the ideas we are kicking around— and get a meaningful discussion going (that then shapes the things we are doing outside of writing). Some weeks these posts explore the same topic as our newsletter and can get directly folded into the newsletter. Other weeks the two wander off in their own exploratory direction. This week, for example, our posts have gone in their own direction digging into:
This daily practice experimenting in a resonant relay between writing, doing and research is really important. Whatever else we are working on, or have to do, we try and keep this up (though some mornings nothing written will cohere and we have nothing to post – we leave plenty on the cutting room floor— the new does not always collaborate kindly with language…). The closeness between doing and reflecting allows one to follow what emerges — the surprises and exaptations. This newsletter is a tool for us to test and evolve.
Thursdays we begin the newsletter writing if we can. And then starting early on Friday we just work through it in dialog until something coheres enough to send out into the world.
Sometimes (ideally!) It happens by 8:30 or 9am EST. Other days it takes longer. Sometimes we are on the east coast writing, while other days we are traveling for work or both of us are in different locations (then what is “early in the morning” gets interesting).
The writing holds our week together in one long improvised concert — oscillating somewhere between noise and free jazz…
In this newsletter we would like to continue our focus on exaptations by offering a list of Twelve propositions for supporting exaptive practices.
If you’re new to us this week (welcome!) exaptations might seem like a strange term. It is one we have been focused on for the last few weeks.
Exaptations are a critical aspect of all creativity.
Our short definition of Exaptation: being the co-option of unintended effects for novel outcomes, which stands in contrast to adaptation: the stabilization and improvement of existing functions.
Before getting into this new list it is worth reviewing the what and how of exaptations. We cover this in great depth in our last three newsletters:
We Have Also Written Extensively on Techniques to Engage With Exaptations:
Especially if you are new to the newsletter you might find all of this helpful to review in advance of reading this week's newsletter.
The list we are proposing today is not a set of universal rules, but a series of something far more modest: propositions.
A proposition is what A. N. Whitehead called a “lure for feelings” — they are not statements of fact but lures to draw you into sensing that there might be something in these phrases worth experimentally engaging and transforming.
Some of these propositions will be best ignored, radically transformed and or supplemented.
With propositions it is important to test everything: do a series of experimental probes. Follow what emerges — be changed by it and develop new propositions, tools and techniques. Don’t see our propositions as end.
Remember, everything has its own rhythms, and agency — General rules can be a very dangerous thing. Follow the logic of your practice.
A final note before launching into the list: this is not intended to be a complete list of all propositions relevant to exaptive practices. It is what has emerged for us as we have reflected on previous projects and research this week. We strongly encourage you to send us your propositions and we will share them with the community in the next newsletter.
Exaptivity requires a particular form of rich ecosystem:
Note: this is about developing a world open to exaptation and qualitative change. This is never your only goal. The propositions we suggest need to be understood in the context of your unique realities…
Speaking of Context… Context is critical:
(The archive part one)
A final word on archives: the archive — memory is something alive: it is the emergent relations that produce an assemblage. An anarchive…
The archive is not a separate location.
A long set of propositions with more than a few meanders!
As we said at the beginning, these are propositions — lures for new ways of sensing and not rules. Follow these as your own experimental starting points — where you go and how you go is what will matter. Please try things out during the week.
We would love to hear of your own exaptive practices and propositions. Email us. We will include what you write in our next newsletter.
Have an astonishing week!
Till Volume 46,
Jason and Iain
Emergent Futures Lab
We’re How You Innovate
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