Word up

Perhaps it has something to do with the word itself, but we are disciplined to think in disciplines. The categorisation is helpful to us, as much as it makes us lazy and narrowminded. We unconsciously describe ourselves in these terms, we join collective and protective bodies, derive pride from association, jointly create myth, and approach others from disciplines not our own with suspicion and caution. Some bodies even have exams so you can earn the right to your discipline, and thereby accentuate all of these behaviours. There must be at least fifty ways to stuff a shirt.

I even wrote a post a while ago claiming that Workplace is a discipline, made up of ideas from a multitude of other disciplines. I stand by it, on the superficial level of the idea of disciplines.

When I attended the second HR unconference several years ago, I was asked what interest a property person had in all of this stuff (and if I played guitar). My response was that we were all looking at the same stuff, just from a different direction. But what is it all?

Its the social, ourselves and our relations: culture, community, the language we use and the way we use it, our interactions (face to face and through social tools), our stories, art and expression, skills, attributes, learing and development. The physical, that which we conceive, design, create and subsequently relate to: the wider urban environment, workplace, technical infrastructure and the software and applications that make it usable and accessible. And the obligatory, the mesh that provides a degree of governance: laws, regulations, title, IP, employment, norms, behaviours, morality and etiquette. Broad, arguable strands.

We fixate on the artificial constructs we erect to provide us with permission to consider these facets, and a language of expression peculiar to each. But the point of the post is not another silo-bashing exercise, but the question of what all this stuff is, collectively. We don’t actually have a word for it. Neither do the Greeks, I checked. The disciplines would rather not have a word for it, given their inherent interest in self-preservation.

There are few occasions in life when one needs to invite the deconstructivists in. The children of Jacques Derrida hold that there is no possibility of intrinsic or stable meaning, of absolute truth, and that consequently most words we use have meaning only in their counter-effect with others. Something is “hot”, for example, because it is not “cold”. For this reason they suggest that new terms are a necessity, to get us away from this problem – new terms have no opposites. Not the ubiquitous and regrettable modern tendency to dig up old ideas, re-badge them and claim its something new – but new terms entirely, with new meaning. Jon Husband’s “wirearchy” is a great example. So we have our permission.

So what are we going to call all this social, physical and obligatory stuff that we view through the frames of our disciplines? I offer logasphere. Loga is Hindi for people, and has a helpful softness and ease. Sphere because it is a domain. I specifically resisted the fad for the biological. I ran it past my regular sanity-checker, Perry Timms, who has already claimed to be the first known logaholic.

Whether you are in HR, workplace, property, communications, technology, occupational health, or finance, its likely you’re thinking about and acting in the logasphere. I would happily bury this for a better word – but its at least time we gave ourselves the chance of a common understanding.

Now, at last, we can peel off our labels.


7 thoughts on “Word up

  1. Hi like the blog,glad to see your still writing poetry, but do you still have beautiful handwriting? Tuna fish pie … Nicola X

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