The Uncertainty Mindset 2019-2020

A newsletter project by Vaughn Tan (book | homepage | Twitter | Instagram).

If you've arrived here from an external site and want to know what's going on—or if you've become disoriented in this garden of forking paths—you can always go to the index page, the topic list, or the issue list.

Feel free to get in touch (especially if you find a broken link) or sign up for the newsletter.

#37: Open space

vaughn2nd January 2021 at 3:17pm

This issue is about what makes things feel special—as if they are located outside of the everyday. This quality of specialness is rare, and makers (those who design product) often pursue this quality without success.

My working hypothesis: things can only stimulate this connection between humdrum self and something beyond when the experiencer has the opportunity to respond in ways that are completely personal. A made thing whose experience is overdetermined by its maker—which offers almost no room for personal responses—rarely feels sublime, though it can provoke powerful responses in those who experience it.

This kind of open-endedness is a prerequisite for things that go beyond the everyday. For the maker, this is extraordinarily hard because leaving open space means surrendering control by intentionally and strategically incorporating uncertainty into what you make. This goes against the natural instinct for certainty, so much so that it often indicates real mastery.

You can find it here: #37: Open space