Medium Daily Digest

Notes on Medium Design

Medium Daily Digest

Oxford English Dictionary proclaimed post-truth the word of the year in the wake of D.J.Trump's inauguration with the definition caption:

"relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."1


On how to +turn a table2?

Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas and the slave cast of Spartacus:

“I am Spartacus!”3

Graham Chapman and the crucified cast of Life of Brian:

“I am Brian!”4

(NOTE: Until the videos get cropped please watch Spartacus clip from 0:30 and Life of Brian clip from 4:00 for maximum result)


What forms of emancipation emerge when one destroys the idea of being right?+

Jorge Luis Borges short essay “El idioma analítico de John Wilkins” (“The Analytical Language of John Wilkins”) was originally published in Otras Inquisiciones (1937–1952). In the essay, Borges compares Wilkin’s universal language scheme for classification to Franz Kuhn’s Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.

“In its remote pages it is written that the animals are divided into:

(a) those that belong to the Emperor,

(b) embalmed ones,

(c) those that are trained,

(d) suckling pigs,

(e) mermaids,

(f) fabulous ones,

(g) stray dogs,

(h) those that are included in the present classification,

(i) those that tremble as if they are mad,

(j) innumerable ones,

(k) those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,

(l) others,

(m) those that have just broken a flower vase,

(n) those that look like flies from a long way off.”

A dialog breaks out between Michel Foucault and Jorge Luis Borges...

Michel Foucault:

“... the laughter that shattered, as I read the passage, all the familiar landmarks of my thought... breaking up all the ordered surfaces and all the planes with which we are accustomed to tame the wild profusion of existing things...”

Jorge Luis Borges:

“... it is clear that there is no classification of the Universe that is not arbitrary and full of conjectures.”


It is not interesting to start from the beginning. It’s more like patching than drawing?


We could start all over again perhaps?


That should be easy.


It's the start thats difficult.


You can start from anything.


Yes, but you have to decide.

Tragicomedy in two acts called Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett


"An improvisational ensemble, in which real time compositions happen without previous conceptions, but where each player brings their unique set of skills and potentials to be explored together. In an improv there’s no subject, no object, but the medium itself." 5

Pierre Boulez discusses the problems of 'faders and toggles'6 in electronic music:

Once a composer switches to using electronic means, choosing to leave behind the standard instruments, he will encounter numerous obstacles and barricades. In part, these are of a technical nature: he must learn how to work in a studio and how to operate electronic equipment. But that is merely a matter of adjustment. The true leap in the dark is about the inner hearing, which is seriously challenged in this transitional phase toward electronic music. An entire frame of reference with its laws and limitations is disrupted. Many boundaries are abolished, while at the same time several matters must be measured very meticulously, so that new boundaries are again formed.



Ideas are usually well intended, but through their instantiation they manifest themselves into tangible effects. The negative space that lies in between a good idea and how it manifests itself in reality. How does an idea look?


How do we know it will work? It shouldn’t be about one but multiple solutions in one. A multi-purpose trojan horse that hides in itself multiple possibilities ready to unfold as a set of conditions change. To design with a backup plan, it is to code backdoors and easter eggs that can be instantiated and called by their name.

No answers.


On +functionlessness, decoupling9 and The Zone10

  1. “ the famous scene from Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, Roman authorities make what they portray to be a magnanimous announcement to a field of slaves who are shackled and chained to each other. The captives will all be spared crucifixion if they identify the insurgent leader named Spartacus. But, just as Kirk Douglas (Spartacus) is about to stand and identify himself, Tony Curtis (a fellow slave) stands with him and both shout: “I am Spartacus.” Then one by one and in groups, more and more of the slaves stand and shout over and over again, “I am Spartacus. I am Spartacus.”5 By going to their death together, the slaves instantly turn the tables on their captors. Rather than handing success to an authority, the slaves dissipated violence towards one of their members and forced the dominating power to extinguish all of its human property. ”

    Excerpt From: Keller Easterling. “The New Normal. Medium Design”

  2. “Designers are very good at making things, but medium design is less like making a thing and more like having your hands on the faders and toggles of organisation. It is the design of interdependencies, chemistries, chain reactions and ratchets.”

    Excerpt From: Keller Easterling. “The New Normal. Medium Design”.

  3. According to Gilbert Ryle, “disposition as the latent agency or potential immanent in an arrangement — a property or propensity within a context that unfolds over time. Glass doesn't have to break to be brittle.”

  4. “While temperament is a construct usually associated with the human psyche, any organization possesses a potential for either concentrating or distributing power as well as a potential for escalating or reducing violence. Attuned to temperament, medium design can adjust stories and organizational potentials on both sides of the screen.”

    Excerpt From: Keller Easterling. “The New Normal. Medium Design”.

  5. “In this split screen, it is easier to detect the difference between what an organization is saying and what it is doing, and how organizations decouple their messages from their real activities and underlying dispositions. ”

    Excerpt From: Keller Easterling. “The New Normal. Medium Design”.

  6. "If you take a quick look at it, everything seems OK. The sun shines there just like it is suppose to and it seems as though nothing's changed, as if everything's the same as thirteen years ago." Strugatsky brothers describe The Zone, from Roadside Picknick.

From 'Species of Spaces' by George Perec


Popularity of the word 'martyrdom' in literature since 1500

Popularity of the word

from 'Life of Brian' by Monty Python & 'Spartacus' by Stanley Kubrick


from 'Species of Spaces' by George Perec


Medium Daily Digest was done in collaboration with Ksenia Trofimova and Ricardo Saavedra within Keller Easterling's module at The New Normal program at Strelka Institute directed by Benjamin H. Bratton.