Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Treasure maps.

I walk pretty much, every day, that same route, past the pile of free newspapers in the lobby , open a door, walk down a dark corridor.

There, offices each side.

There, people looking at PC screens.

What are they doing?

I really had no idea.

I cross people in the corridor, we nod, smile, say hello, having acknowledged each others' existence, we continue on our route.

How do we discover which person holds clues to the whereabouts of treasure?

I mean you can't go in every office and ask all the people who they are and what they are doing, it would take too long.

That would be ridiculous.

Maybe there are people in offices we need to find?

How do we know which office to choose?

Official charts, organigrams, plans tell us little we need to know....maybe that is their purpose....concealment.

If we sent a message out in a bottle, how many would find it, would read it, would understand it?


We are occupied.

We have so little time.

Fifty five, fifty five, fifty five.

Occupied. Occupied. Occupied.

Occupied, with whom, for what ends?

I went upstairs.

I was met by a stony face.

I don't insist.

Pebbles on the beach.

There are so many pebbles on the beach.

People that is.

I mean, I wasn't looking for anything or anybody in particular.

I bump into a colleague from the library.


Funny, I was just thinking about contacting him.

He is speaking to one of those unknown people from the offices along the corridor.

He is speaking to one of those people with whom I exchange nods and smiles.

He looks vaguely familiar.

I can't for the life of me figure out why.

My library colleague gives us an opportunity, a pretext,  to communicate something other than a nod.

We start talking, as one does around a coffee machine.

It appears that he is interested in the conversations that we are having with my colleague from the library.

I explain  a fair while what I am working on.

I suddenly think of the importance of coffee as a pretext for conversation with strangers.

That recalls a talk of Steve Johnson entitled "Where do good ideas come from?"

I think of the stony look upstairs, of unproductive frosty meeting.

I think of my online friends. They, the ones, who have fuelled much of my creativity.

I think of how these friends have become part of my physical world at this moment.

I explain how these friends know me in a way those who I cross in a teachers' room can not.

What can such "online coffee shops" bring to us locally?

How can we enable people who don't know each other locally to speak together?

How can we signal what we are looking for when we don't know what it is?

I can only think that openness is a prerequisite.

I think of the difficulty of introducing such openness, such ongoing familiarity building such as I have experience via cmoocs and social media, Twitter in particular, to a local institution, to peoples' daily lives.

We speak about maps.

I talk of mapping narratives.

I talk of being able to combine narrative mapping with strategic planning.

I think again of the work of Dave Snowden and Sensemaker.

I think of how in my personal research, I am still looking to use very personal, artisanal means to map.

Merchants, spices, warehouses.

I talk of a university as a port.

Merchant ships bring in wares from afar.

I talk of a book as a port.

Warehouses spring up to stock vittals.

Merchants, help us choose the best rum, the best spices.

Is this blog a ship, a warehouse, a tavern, spice?

I think of my conversations, my journeys, my life online.

I drop into conversations in distant taverns.

They are in my head - conversations fuse, confuse, enlighten, the people, the taverns.

They become part of me...bodily.

I am seeing this/these conversation/s through the lens of a multitude of selves.

How do we open up our minds and those of others to see the interest of virtual taverns?

Treasure maps and occupation.

I talk of looking at a map together, of speaking the same language, of sharing a common understanding.

How do we know which people will be able to see meaning in a map?

Perhaps, I think to myself, it is our occupation which is already mapped.

Perhaps, I reason, it is pointless to offer any alternative map, if it doesn't correspond to existing charts.

Perhaps, I conclude, that is what one must do first, one must fully understand how occupation is mapped in peoples' minds, bodies and spirits.

I talk of my friend Daniel in Chicago.

How do we bring others together to discover treasure in our maps, particularly when they are otherwise occcupied?

Perhaps we don't.

Treasure mapped.

I think of treasure.

For myself, treasure is in personal mapping.

X does not mark the spot, X marks the questions, the curiosity, the wonder.

What is this treasure?

I think of my nephew in Glasgow.

I think of his new project selling beer in Glasgow and building wells in Africa.

I think of how his eyes light up.

I think of the dull gleam of unburnished metal.

That is not his treasure.

Treasure is not a lonely acquisition.

Is treasure meaning and fellowship?

Is meaning fellowship?

Post Scripts.

"Once you see the boundaries of your environment, they are no longer the boundaries of your environment."

Marshall McLuhan.

Questions of mapping.


Where/how do I move/travel, where/how do I walk (to/into/out of/around/up/down) ?


Who/what do I see/hear/smell/touch/?


How do I feel?


What sense/thoughts/memories/feelings make me see/feel things in a particular way?


What do I do?

Who do I do these actions with?

Who do I speak to, write to, draw to, sing to, touch and where do I write/speak/draw?

Where do I speak, write, draw, sing, touch, walk, run, fly, eat, drink?

What do I do else?


  1. Simon, I started drafting a long comment to place here, but decided to just turn it into an article on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration.