On moderating

All of i is still a bit jumbled in my head, but I am hoping writing it will help me have a better grasp on the concept. As always (though I never really say it) comments, questions, inputs, ideas, feedback, names, sources, are MOST WELCOME because this is an exercise in a way for me, through which I hope to improve clarifying my thoughts.

Also if you feel tired, you can just skip to the last six paragraphs ;  )


Over the past few days it seems anything I read or listen to always revolves around the concept of sharing an experience. It is quite broad, yes but not vague nonetheless.

I have been confronted to this issue through: a competition I started with a friend two weeks ago, which spoke about memories and the sharing of memories (memories themselves being an experience that has passed), through Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation,” I’ve only read some of it, but the part I am referring to is his chapter “Retro” and “China Syndrome.” But overall, the WHOLE book is on this notion of how we relate to experiences and convey them to others wether they are events, personal conflicts, battles.

In the first one he highlights a very interesting phenomenon I had noticed somehow and I think we all do, but the way he phrased it made it immensely clear, and very fun to play with. His point is to say that storytelling (or another type of sharing experiences) goes back and forth between history and myth. In other words, based on what is happening at the moment in history, people, story-tellers such as filmmakers, will “use” (almost like a medium more than a subject) one or the other, history or myth. For example right after the second world war, films seemed to praise heroism in many forms (to give one very specific example), whereas now a lot of films have a tendency to allude to what they call historical “facts” (notice the quotation marks). This latter example is due, according to him to the flattening of the world, to the “cultural haemorrhage” we are experiencing. The key point or outcome of this paradox, is that nowadays when we produce “retro” things (again films, objects, creations) it may rely on “facts” but facts are only items of a bigger picture, of a bigger context consisting of values and ideals that were different at the time, they lack what you’d call in french “le vécu” which means “real-life” or “personal experience” without which, creations such as films based ONLY on “facts” become de-contextualized pieces floating in time and space.

The second one, “China Syndrome” evokes the concept (which apparently isn’t new) of referring to events as “hot” or relevant, active, taking place  and “cold” or inactive, less dynamic for lack of a better word. Which goes back to the first point. Often times in the process of bringing back to life (or warming up in this case) a cold event, storytellers inject it with facts, more ITEMS that “ground it.” But ground it to WHAT!? VOID? EMPTINESS?!

A few days later, I visited a “typical” Peranakan house in Melaka, Malaysia. The Peranakan are a very “present” ethnic group in Malaysia and Singapore. Everything was kept in pristine condition, with quite a bit of pride. The artifacts were beautiful, the architecture gorgeous (to my “modern” standards looking back at a “traditional” setting) but almost in a nostalgic way. Yet they were JUST things. Then we (my friend and I) had a tour guide show us around and gave us “some” (still relatively factual) context.

(tangent) It feels like humans need bearings, they need things to hold onto (yes, yes Freud, I know) and so of course they find role models, time periods, objectives, goals, based on their ability to relate with them. However the the world is CONSTANTLY changing, and I feel like we need to accept that the way we relate to something or someone may be subject to change the next day due to the way the world surrounding us affects us as human beings. That being said I want to point out that the verb “relating to” is based on the notion of “relevance,” how relevant a role-model, ideal, event seems to us, in other words how “hot or cold” it is in our mind.(tangent)

The next encounter I’d like to mention, is a podcast. I’m terribly sorry if you don’t speak french, you’ll have to take my word for the excerpts that will follow. The podcast’s  title wasn’t very clear as to what should be expected from its content. Word for word it could be translated as: “The dignity of the mind”… Hmm! Interesting! I only downloaded it because I wanted to go for a walk. So I got it, walked a couple of blocks to a cafe my friend told me about. During those few blocks I was introduced to two characters (people, sorry) who would be part of a round table on communication between co-workers (I’m not sure I am fully doing it justice with this summarization).

The speakers were there to bring two tangential points of view to the subject:

How to advocate a more convivial and cohesive marketplace and workflow among co-workers, better communication being one possible solution.

And how communication in many areas of the marketplace has become streamlined to the point of lacking many possible insights in the hope of imposing a solution rather than expanding the range of possible actions which would help our mindsets grow or evolve. This observation resonates with the concept of retro described by Baudrillard where we have a tendency to clutch onto preconceived notions that were valid only in a PRIOR context which has evolved into a radically new landscape and our failure to acknowledge it our our success in ignoring it).

Now why is the title “On (im)moderation”? Valid question.

It’s in relationship to a statement made by the second speaker, Rolland Gori, who talks of “grilles” or matrices that we have come to use those in order to objectify the information communicated in the marketplace between companies, co-workers and in evaluating performances (a similar process can be observed in american schools: quite inaccurate and inefficient evaluation techniques are being used such as STANDARDIZED TESTS (tangent) the FCAT IS A JOKE, I always wanted to vent about it, but never found the correct context, but now that I have a blog, the time is appropriate (tangent)). These models are then used to moderate the company’s, the country’s or the individual worker’s output. They may me appropriate for some simple tasks but the concept of standardization at the wrong scale is very dangerous.

I would like to provide a concrete example of this the ill-representation of distinct contexts through standardization. This term I worked on a project on death. I tried to find a way for people’s choices and preferences in dying to be better respected and more accessible overall.

From this challenge arose two new challenges. One was that many people didn’t know what they wanted or what their loved-ones wanted in terms of final care procedures, which in itself is a whole other subject (but not really, it is about sharing experiences, muhahahahaha). The other one was that the STANDARDIZED health-care system was ill-designed to meet many of the patients’ possible to need to the point where it would gear them towards what was available as the only solution. Currently the best accommodation to this issue is hospice care, which is based on quality of life rather than “quantity” of life.

Now I am not pointing fingers, but I am slamming my fist (that’s right, SLAMMING) on the table, something needs to be done. And in that sense I think design can come at various scales and cater to the disconnect there is between the service provided, the service providers, and the service receivers. But in order to do that WE MUST find (design?) more appropriate ways to assess and observe a situation and its components.

How do we, as individuals, human beings, companies learn to discover again?


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