Some Situations Call for Proximity-Oriented Approaches Like the Shared Situation Guide, Leading to More Sustainability and Variety

Some Situations Call for Proximity-Oriented Approaches

Hello,

Are you, as an individual or in your organization, exploring ways of thinking about and relating to situations that could make more progress on the big and small challenges you face, and humanity faces? Whether you’re exploring or not, what follows will expand your possibilities. First, these four definitions will help with what’s coming up. A situation is whatever you are dealing with or considering. An element is anything you’re considering as separate, including a person, place, thing, idea, feeling, time, group, relationship, etc. A relationship is any kind of association or connection between elements. And, the proximity consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways. With the proximity thinking framework I created, you can consider situations and challenges with the four basic terms situation, element, relationship and proximity. Although considering elements, relationships and the proximity may each be important in dealing with situations, sometimes one or two of them may dominate our attention and activities, even when that is less effective. You may see that many of our approaches for dealing with challenges, which are kinds of situations, tend to be more element-oriented and/or relationship-oriented. For example, approaches like markets, politics and hierarchies are typically more element-oriented and/or relationship-oriented, meaning they have a greater focus on elements and/or relationships than proximities. No doubt, certain kinds of situations are most effectively dealt with by element-oriented and/or relationship-oriented approaches. However, some of the big and small challenges we face are shared situations, and may be more context-related or environment-related, or may relate to diverse elements across areas that may not typically be connected, so they are more proximity-oriented. And, sometimes it’s easier and more effective to consider a proximity, such as when relationships between elements are hard to define or in flux much of the time, so element-oriented approaches become difficult. Plus, sometimes it just becomes clear that we need to focus on a proximity. For example, consider shared challenges like climate change, sustainability, shared projects, shared spaces, shared resources (whether big like water or power sources or small like parks or kitchens), or shared events (whether big like a festivals or conventions or small like potlucks, picnics or meetings). These kinds of shared challenges are more proximity-oriented. In these kinds of challenges, it can help to relate more directly to the proximity of the situation. Networked technologies, when combined with some new proximity-oriented processes I’ve developed, let us relate more directly to proximities.

While developing the proximity thinking framework, I created some new proximity-oriented approaches that let us relate more directly to proximities. How? By deploying the four ProxThink growth model processes of RelatePoints, ProxMonitors, Vadi Agreements and ProxRewards (proxri) on a collaborative, networked, mobile platform. The ProxThink growth model was developed to work with networks, and grew partly out of asking myself, if you want to relate to a proximity sort like we relate to a person, what would be needed? A RelatePoint is a primary starting point or place for coordinating relationships in the proximity, and is similar to the ability to meet and/or talk to someone. A Proximity Monitor, or ProxMonitor, provides greater awareness of and information about the proximity, similar to the feedback we get from facial expressions, voice tonality, body language, and of course what someone is saying, when we relate to them. Similar to commonly accepted standards of behavior and ways of interacting with people are Vadi Agreements. The term Vadi (pronounced vah’dee) is short for valuable differences. Vadi Agreements acknowledge that differences are a part of relationships and some differences have value, and provide relationships and agreements which can help valuable differences persist, adapt and change as needed. ProxRewards (proxri) are somewhat similar to the need, when dealing with someone, to provide encouragement, positive feedback, rewards, and so forth, which help one or both of you, and which keep the relationship flowing. So a ProxReward is a reward which relates elements in the proximity, and is often a reward made with the proximity in mind. ProxRewards are also called proxri for short (pronounced prox’ree).

When deploying the four growth model processes discussed above on a collaborative, networked, mobile platform, you have proximity-oriented approaches that are integrated conceptually and technologically. With them, people can relate more directly to the proximity of their shared situation. These approaches can help us make more progress on the big and small challenges humanity faces, but also everyday challenges and shared situations. In the process, these approaches help create more sustainable proximities and sustainable variety. It’s both fascinating and a nice surprise that these approaches can make our lives more sustainable as well as more interesting, healthy and vital with more variety. I think sustainable variety is closely related to what nature does, which is perhaps a clue that these approaches have value and potential.

The proximity-oriented conceptual and technological approaches mentioned above come together in a specific form in the collaborative and mobile Shared Situation Guide. You can use it for shared situations with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors and others. It works on your Android phone or iPhone, your tablet and your computer. I’d like you to try it. It helps your group relate more directly to the proximity and each other, improving shared situations. It turns the proximity into more of a tangible, living thing, making it easier to relate to. It also gives people chances to relate to the proximity and each other in a wider variety of ways. Combined, these things can help groups with a shared situation come alive and thrive, and life becomes more enjoyable. There may be other people in proximities you share who are already using the guide, or if not, you can start collaborations that others can join. Keep in mind that the Shared Situation Guide is a preliminary implementation of proximity-oriented approaches, and more will need to be done to integrate the processes it uses into our systems and lives. Learn more, access and try the Shared Situation Guide, find guide workshops, access guide starter sets, and discover other people who are using it, at sharedsituations.wordpress.com.

If you explore the proximity thinking (ProxThink) framework and the Shared Situation Guide, you’ll learn more about and use the concept of proxri, briefly introduced above. You’ll also see that the framework and Shared Situation Guide are offered via proxri. Proxri in practice are sort of like the give and take of a neighborhood, relationship, friendship or perhaps being a considerate traveler. How do you proxri? Basically, you consider the proximity, including your benefits, your circumstances, the other party’s circumstances, and some wider context, and then proxri as appropriate. A proxri may include money, things, services, ideas, tasks, relationships, actions, and so on, as well as a combination of these. So a proxri to me for the framework and guide might also be a referral, consulting or speaking engagement, teaching gig, grant, or other opportunity. In addition, I’ve created a collaboration deal so that people who collaborate on or improve the framework and guide can get proxri. If you think my work might be, or is, useful, interesting or has potential, please consider a proxri for it. You can find out more about my circumstances via this ProxMonitor. You can learn more about proxri here. You can make financial proxri here or via the proxri links on most any page of proxthink.com. As far as non-financial proxri, you can let me know about them by contacting me via the contact methods mentioned below.

Please contact me with any questions, comments, or for other related reasons, via the contact links on the Shared Situations or ProxThink websites. Also, if you’d like to get involved in growing the shared situations approach on various levels (social, technical, legal, organizational, etc.), please get in touch.

Thank you,
David Loughry
Shared Situations website: sharedsituations.wordpress.com
ProxThink website: proxthink.com

Creating the Life We Want, with a Tip from Skiing

Ski i Trysil

Ski i Trysil” by Ola Matsson for Trysil is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

I think it’s probably true that we, as individuals and groups, can create the life we want, to a large extent. But I also think it’s a bit like skiing. If you do the right things at the right moments, the ski and the mountain do a lot of the rest of the work. In life, the skis are things like the systems, tools, products and services that we create and we use. When I say “systems,” it includes not just things like infrastructure but things like formal and informal social networks, conceptual frameworks, and processes we use to do things large and small. This means such systems might include the proximity thinking framework, the sustainable proximities approach, the shared situation guide and the shared situations website. I’ve worked very hard to make these ProxThink-related systems be like a good pair of skis. When used with reality (the mountain), they can do a lot of the work for us, and can help make life better and more enjoyable.

As touched on, an important point about the above is related to the word “we,” which can mean ourselves individually, but also larger groups of people, and even all of humanity. So we need to think carefully about the systems, tools, products and services that we create and we use. But I think we especially need to think carefully about the systems, as systems can condition the range of options we have, and our quality of life in general. I’ve thought very carefully in creating the ProxThink-related systems mentioned above, and even about the transitions to using them more often.

 

No Fill Marks? … New video intro to previous post about my French press.

In a previous post, I talked about my French press coffee maker which has no fill level marks to help me add water to the same place every time. This short video introduces that post, and shows you my current French press. It is for people who own French press coffee makers AS WELL AS designers and anyone interested in innovation and creativity. It also shows the mind map you can explore while learning some proximity thinking at the same time!

Hacking IKEA — Repurposing an IKEA Ice Tray

IKEA has ice trays for making ice in unusual shapes. The photos below show one of the ice trays that makes long thin ice cubes. But in this case, they should be called not “cubes” but ice sticks I guess. Anyway, when I saw them, I thought they were cool objects, and since I wasn’t sure what they were at first, I started wondering what they might be. This is one side, which you would fill with water to make ice sticks.

IKEA Ice Tray (side A) for Proximity Thinking Example

This is the other side. It’s the bottom in relation to the water-filling side, but in some of the ways I’ve used these objects, I’ve come to think of the side shown below as the top! I may add more photos/video later to show some of the ways I’ve repurposed these ice trays, but I describe them in the mind map farther down this page.

IKEA Ice Tray (side B) for Proximity Thinking Example

The mind map below explores this situation. It describes some ways to repurpose these ice trays, and shows how some proximity thinking was used. Click the image below to open it full-size. Once open, you can zoom it even larger.

Repurposing an IKEA Ice TrayNOTE — THE REST OF THIS PAGE IS BASICALLY JUST FOR SEARCH ENGINES.
Since search engines can’t index the text in an image, I’m including the text from the graphic below. However, I’d recommend only looking at the graphic, as it will make a lot more sense. Also, WordPress is adding some blank lines in the outline below, and I can’t fix it. So please imagine there are no blank lines!

• A proximity thinking example, including a few basic definitions. To learn more, visit proxthink.com.
• Situation – A “situation” is whatever you are dealing with or considering.
• Element – Loosely, an “element” can be anything. Any person, place, thing, idea, feeling, time, group, relationship, situation, proximity, etc.
• Proximity – The “proximity” consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways.

  • SITUATION
    Repurposing an IKEA Ice Tray

    Elements in the proximity
    of this situation.

    • It’s a cool, modern,
      sleek object.

      • Both sides are usable
        and look good.
    • Cheap ($0.99),
      durable and
      rinse-to-clean.
    • It doesn’t really
      look like an ice tray!
    • It has gooves and slots.
    • What uses do the shapes of
      the ice tray suggest?

      • Business cards stand.
      • Postcard stand.
      • Place for pens or things that
        might roll off the table.
    • What things in your life
      might go with this object?

      • Becomes place for
        keys, wallet,
        chapstick, coins, etc.
      • Becomes a stand for your mobile phone
        at night. (Can flip ice tray either way.)
    • What other objects can it
      be combined with?

      • Combine with stainless utensil holder ($3-$6 at
        IKEA) to make a little table with storage inside.
      • Combine ice tray with metal fence pole
        tops or other items to make a sculpture!
      • Use ice tray as base for upside down pencil
        holder, which then becomes a stand for my clock.
    • How can you repurpose
      IKEA ice trays?

      • And what proximity
        thinking did you do?
    • How was proximity
      thinking used here?

      • ProxPatterns
        • ProxAwareness
          • Becoming aware of the different characteristics of the ice tray,
            and elements in your life it might go with or combine with.
        • Relate a Variety
          • Being open to unusual combinations, and a wide of variety of different combinations.
        • Allow Uncertainty
          • Just trying things and seeing what happens, then adjusting or adapting as needed.
        • Honor Integrity
          • Honoring the shapes and characteristics of the ice tray. Respecting what they can do and cannot do.
        • Introduce Related
          • Introducing other objects into the proximity which are related in some way.

• Questions? Contact us via proxthink.com.
• Created by David Loughry.
• As you find this rewarding, please proxri with the proximity in mind via proxthink.com.

Some belts always fit just right. Let’s ProxThink about that.

Some belts, like the web belt below which allows the buckle to push through anywhere, always fit just right. Let’s use proximity thinking to consider this situation.

Continuously Adjustable Belt for Proximity Thinking Example

The mind map below explores this situation. Click the image below to open it full-size. Once open, you can zoom it even larger.

Belts that Fit Just RightNOTE — THE REST OF THIS PAGE IS BASICALLY JUST FOR SEARCH ENGINES.
Since search engines can’t index the text in an image, I’m including the text from the graphic below. However, I’d recommend only looking at the graphic, as it will make a lot more sense. Also, WordPress is adding some blank lines in the outline below, and I can’t fix it. So please imagine there are no blank lines!

• A proximity thinking example, including a few basic definitions. To learn more, visit proxthink.com.
• Situation – A “situation” is whatever you are dealing with or considering.
• Element – Loosely, an “element” can be anything. Any person, place, thing, idea, feeling, time, group, relationship, situation, proximity, etc.
• Proximity – The “proximity” consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways.

  • SITUATION
    Belts that fit just right.

    Elements in the proximity of
    this situation.

    • Everyone has a
      different size waist.
    • Most belts have a few
      holes rather than being
      continuously adjustable.

      • So belts only fit well if your waist
        matches one of the holes on the belt.
    • Fashion and trends
      considerations.
    • Design and manufacturing
      considerations.
    • Belt materials and
      technology.
    • Poor-fitting belts may have
      physical and psychological
      effects on the wearers.
    • Continuously adjustable
      belts fit the best.

      • Such as web belts that allow the buckle to
        push through anywhere. Or, belts with buckles
        that can grasp the belt at any point.
      • Let’s think about this from a
        proximity thinking point of view.

        • ProxPatterns
          • Transition Smoothly
            • Continuously adjustable belts transition smoothly between any size waist. They
              adjust if you want them a bit looser after a meal, or a bit tighter if you’re slimmer.
          • Honor Integrity
            • Continuously adjustable belts honor the characteristics of your exact waist size.
          • Avoid Forcing
            • Continuously adjustable belts avoid forcing you to live
              with a belt that is a little too snug or a little too loose.
    • Some people may be willing to
      put up with a less-than-perfect fit
      to get other benefits.

      • Let’s think about this from a
        proximity thinking point of view.

        • ProxPatterns
          • Honor Integrity
            • For some people, fashion may outweigh comfort considerations.
              They have a higher regard for fashion than for comfort, and in
              doing so they honor the integrity of fashion in their life.
          • ProxAwareness
            • Belts with holes are more widely sold than continuously adjustable
              belts. So consumers, retailers, designers and manufacturers may
              be less aware of the benefits of a belt with perfect fit.
          • Limits of One
            • There are limits of any one technology or style to be accepted
              or used. So there may be limits to the widespread adoption of
              continuously adjustable belts.

• Questions? Contact us via proxthink.com.
• Created by David Loughry.
• As you find this rewarding, please proxri with the proximity in mind via proxthink.com.

My Bodum French Press Could Use Some Proximity Thinking

My French press coffee maker, by Bodum, could use some proximity thinking. More specifically, it has no fill level marks to help me add water to the same place every time, as you can see from the picture.

UPDATE: I made a short video intro to this post! You can watch it here.

Bodum French Press for Proximity Thinking Example

The mind map below should be pretty self-explanatory. Click the image below to open it full-size. Once open, you can zoom it even larger.

NOTE — THE REST OF THIS PAGE IS BASICALLY JUST FOR SEARCH ENGINES.
Since search engines can’t index the text in an image, I’m including the text from the graphic below. However, I’d recommend only looking at the graphic, as it will make a lot more sense. Also, WordPress is adding some blank lines in the outline below, and I can’t fix it. So please imagine there are no blank lines!

• A proximity thinking example, including a few basic definitions. To learn more, visit proxthink.com.
• Situation – A “situation” is whatever you are dealing with or considering.
• Element – Loosely, an “element” can be anything. Any person, place, thing, idea, feeling, time, group, relationship, situation, proximity, etc.
• Proximity – The “proximity” consists of elements related or potentially related to a situation, in physical, mental and other ways.

  • SITUATION
    No fill level marks on my
    French press coffee maker.

    Elements in the proximity of
    this situation.

    • Different people have different
      preferences for how much coffee to
      make. And different size cups too.
    • Glass pot with instructions on
      side, but no fill level marks.

      • So we know they can
        paint on glass!
    • The need to consistently make a good
      cup of coffee just the way you like it.

      • Once you figure out how much water and
        how many ground coffee scoops you
        like, it should be easy to repeat that.
    • With French presses, the coffee
      grounds stay in the pot and absorb
      some water, so it affects fill levels.

      • So a strong cup with more coffee
        grounds might take more water.
    • International sales
      means it’s better to avoid
      choosing ounces or liters.

      • Yet fill lines need some unique
        marks to tell them apart.

        • However numbers might be a poor
          choice since people might think they
          relate to liters or ounces.
    • Possible solution that relates to
      the elements in this proximity.

      • Many fill lines painted up the side,
        every quarter inch (6 mm) or so.

        • Mark each line with letters
          and/or a symbol or shape.

          • Suggest that the first time you make coffee, get a rough idea of the best fill line as
            follows: Fill your cup(s) with cold water and pour into the French press, so you can
            note which fill line is closest. Then add a couple lines for the coffee grounds.

            • After you make a few pots of coffee and make minor adjustments,
              you’ll know how many ground coffee scoops you like, and which
              fill line works best. Then you can do it the same every time.
    • How was proximity
      thinking used here?

      • The Core Idea
        • The ProxThink Core Idea is: “In a situation, change elements, relationships
          and the proximity to better relate to each other.” The blue crosslink lines
          above show some of the elements these solutions relate to better.
      • ProxPatterns
        • Relate a Variety
          • Many closely-spaced fill lines up the side relates to a
            wider variety of people, preferences and cup sizes.
        • Honor Integrity
          • Avoiding markings related to ounces, liters or numbers honors the
            need for international sales and the need to avoid confusion.
        • Create Links
          • Many closely-spaced fill lines marked with letters and/or symbols and shapes creates
            a link between the fill line that works best for you and the next time you make coffee.
        • Avoid Forcing
          • We avoided forcing people to use ounces, if they’re used to liters, and vice versa. And
            by using many fill lines, we avoided forcing the lines to relate to fixed cup sizes.
        • ProxAwareness
          • To become more aware of elements in the proximity of this situation.

• Questions? Contact us via proxthink.com.
• Created by David Loughry.
• As you find this rewarding, please proxri with the proximity in mind via proxthink.com.