A Series of Epistolary Romances (the CODE|WORDS experiment continues)

Posted on February 10, 2016

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Late last week, we quietly announced that CODE|WORDS–the experiment in online discourse that Ed Rodley, Rob Stein, and I kicked off in 2014–is back. It has a new format and a new set of instigators, plus new authors and new topics. I’m happy to see its return.

When we started CODE|WORDS, our aims were to pilot a new approach to the creation of theory ‘in public’ through the use of online, collaborative platforms, with a print publication to follow. We hoped the project would offer considered commentary as well as responsive dialogue, but the format we chose enabled less discourse than intended.

Which brings us to A Series of Epistolary Romances... Our second CODE|WORDS experiment is designed to privilege the discursive, conversational element that the original project was unable to generate. Each month, a new pair of authors will correspond about a topic related to museums for a series of weeks (or longer, if they choose). Ideally, this approach will allow us to investigate how a discussion rolls out over time, and to see how a more personal approach to correspondence impacts a dialogue. We’re also interested in learning how people play with the epistolary format. Will all posts be long form communications, or will we get videos, audio notes, or scans of postcards and letters?

Our first romance is between Bruce Wyman and Daniel Meyers, and investigates Interstitial Spaces in Museums. Already, there are wonderful moments.

From Bruce:

I had fallen in love with the early work of Imagineering and the early planning of Disneyland and Disney World. The early imagineers had made *amazing* experiences and it was all this attention to detail and thinking through what the overall experience of a thing would be. And it wasn’t just superficial treatment, but every component that would touch the visitor. I read everything I could about those design sessions and development and reveled in their tweaks and tricks to add just 10% more magic to every experience.

To which Daniel replies:

But I have to tell you, my first experiences of Disney attractions were profoundly disappointing! Perhaps it was just a failure of my imagination, but even as a youngster I found myself unable to suspend disbelief. Rather than feeling immersed in story, I was interested in understanding the mechanisms behind the silicone curtain, as a way to pass the time.

I love these personal explorations of bigger ideas related to museums and technology, and can’t wait to see how this format shifts the tone of the conversation.

Do you want to get involved with CODE | WORDS? Sign up and register interest in being one of our contributors. Think about the topics you’d like to cover, and the person you’d like to talk to, and one of our instigators will get back to you soon.