A New View of Wayfinding

We will advance our cause more when we help others figure out where they want to go—and help them get there.

In building out the vital intersections between the way we construct our physical world and how those buildings, those structures influence the way we treat each other, books can serve a vital bridge. Even when they’re electronic multi-media products, they’re still serving a purpose corresponding to why Gutenberg invented moveable type. Our purpose—I propose we remain steadfastly focused on this—is to inculcate, to sow into children of all ages (even the big ones hidden inside adult bodies…), the love God has for them and the ability they have to bring goodness into the world around them.

As I mentioned back in the post of the 25th, a few weeks ago I was invited to write for the Journal of Physical Security at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. With that honor came the opportunity to be deeply introspective, to reflect on what I can share that would add value to the Journal’s readers and to the typical workaday person who just wants to watch movies on their iPad and not be bothered with “all this security stuff.”

There are x, y and z dimensions in our physical world; for the majority of people, that’s what they’re used to. They never go any further in thinking “outside the box.”

geometry of three intersecting planes in a 3-axis framework

image: Rock Eel Digital Design

I’m going to propose something off-the-wall to jostle your thinking, so just run with me here for a moment, ok?

I think we have an opportunity to deliver a monumental upgrade in the way that wayfinding systems (directional systems like GPS and directions like in a museum or store) are deployed and used. The actual architecting, the temporal and structural archetypes are fairly straightforward in and of themselves. People in the industry tell you they’re hard because of the amount of work involved in delivering a solution. Let that sink in a moment. (Of course it’s hard! That’s why they pay you!)

I think that setting the stage is two-thirds of the issue and the actual structure and deployment is at most one-third if not less.

In deploying a wayfinding system, one of our top goals is to help people determine where they want to go. Clearly this has profound theological undercurrents that we can design in, so that we follow St. Francis’ maxim: preach the Gospel constantly, when necessary, use words.

In designing the framework and structure of this wayfinding system, itself a “cultural narrative,” we can make it easy to do good and hard to do bad. I’ve written extensively about this on my faith-based blog, Enchiridion Texanæ, if that sort of thing interests you.

A Basic Grasp of Reality

Voicing what JohnPaul II called the most basic human reality: we are unified body-mind-spirit, we deserve dignity for our inherent nature. When structures, (physical, political, social, etc.) attempt (or succeed) at denying that reality and stripping us of a part of our God-given dignity, those are “sinful structures” that must be overcome by the faithful, indeed by all people of good will. (The “Centesimus Annus” reference is in the paragraph above the link anchor, so scroll up a few lines to reach the text I’m quoting.) For readers in the US, they’re experiencing that very threat from the current administration, which in my view may end up being his Waterloo. It’s always a really bad idea to pick fights with a well-funded opponent in the culture wars which can mobilize millions of passionate believers with thousands of years of tradition from the brightest minds on the planet.

The temporal and the spiritual planes of life are orthogonal, they intersect just like the interference waves that create holograms. So that’s that. To tell you more I’d need to see your secret club decoder ring and make sure that you know the secret handshake…

Back to Books

Seriously, back to the present moment and back to the book journey: just like Apple has produced formerly unimaginable profits by relentlessly delivering superior aesthetics which enabled them to command a significant price premium; the successful design and implementation of a physical reality like a book is built on a framework, reflecting the themes of multiple events and a community of persons. Gifted blogger and publishing veteran Michael Hyatt has written frequently on this.

We will be radically more effective when our books and events are designed and deployed to both invoke joy and curiosity while they deliver a sense of security.

In the attached excerpt from one of my company’s seminars on networking/business outreach training, I’ve hinted at how we concretely develop this sense of “shared mental real estate” which Apple has done in an exponentially more effective way than just about any other company today. We want to follow their success habits, not ape their strategy, because strategy must be tailored for our current product mix, then with a few successes under our belt, we can talk about expanding further into new zones.

Until next time,

Carpe Diem!


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