Monday, February 20, 2006

No box

Ok, at this point it should be obvious that I'm catching up to Kathy Sierra's blog in reverse chronological order. In The Clueless Manifesto Kathy describes the mentality I refer to as No Box. No Box is a somewhat Matrix-like reply to the "think outside of the box" cliche, i.e. there is No Box! (there is no spoon...)

The so called box more often than not is subconscious limit on what is possible. The cliche' has us see that there is a box and tells us to purposely think outside of it. Aside from the good intentions, can this be any more effective than a company wide memo asking us to "be more creative"
this year? Instead of delineating a box and picking in or out, it may be more effective to realize the box is an artificial construct and not here at all. The solutions are where they are regardless of where the lines are.

Perhaps for some, the box may not be so subconcious at all. Instead, they are a clear marker of what these people know to be true/correct/kosher/etc, making it easy for us to rule out the impossible. People with this sort of outlook probably see it as protective and thus comforting, not realizing how limiting it can be.

In some places, a very small, tightly regulated, vigorously enforced box is both the norm and the culture. I think people working with government organzations will recognize what I'm talking about. These boxes most likely came into existance for protective reasons, but often don't help that much with those protective reasons while severly limiting the options.

I remember reading somewhere about how the most creative sorts were usually the most ground breaking, with exceptions, early in their careers. The point the author was trying to bring across that at the beginning of their careers, they "knew less" and were more likely to "break the rules." After they learned a lot and became established, it was harder for them to break away from the inertia of what they've created and accumulated.

What this says to me is that even the best can fill up their cup of tea (a Zen story), and if this happens without one's , the box gets drawn regardlessly. It's something to keep in mind as one learns to keep the cup empty.

Back to Kathy's use of the word cluelessness, the connotattion is somewhat negative, I think having "no box", or better "no limits" might be a bit more conducive for widespread adoption -- I think Extreme Programming shows a lesson on names and adoptability.

Ok, best to cut the rambling short, go read Kathy's blog for some clarity.


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