Kath Murdoch on noticing

Reflecting on my year as a failed flânerie, I take on space as a new word and a new approach to my one word.


I am not exactly sure what I thought 2019 would be, but I certainly did not not expect what I got. My one word was flânerie. So many aspects of my life are structured, I therefore felt I need some serendipity. As I stated:

What I liked about [flânerie] was that it was not about merely observing, but also actively producing.

I tried walking. Failed.

I tried reading random books, but that seemed to dry up as well. Although I read them, I would never get around to doing anything with it all.

I think a part of me thought that a focus on being a flânerie was some sort of licence to let go. However as the year meandered on I realised that being a flânerie was probably as much about being structured and deliberate.

It all reminded me of those who claim to be agile or distributed. So often people have the right intent in trying to change, but they do not allow the appropriate resources for such ideas and initiatives to flourish.

A useful heuristic that comes up again and again in my job is the Project Management Triangle. This is where the quality of the finished product is a combination of time, scope and cost. Sacrifice any of these elements and you reduce the quality of the outcome.

Thinking then about my focus on flânerie, one such resource that was a problem was time. With my limited time wedged between family and work, I was often left trying to achieve more than was possible.

As the year ended, a part of me wondered if my year as a failed flâner came back to the expectations that I set for myself at the beginning. I was therefore left considering where to next. I often have my one word sorted out as the new year passes by. As January unfurled, I wondered if the practice had its day?

Inspired by a few reflections, I wondered if maybe I was approaching it all the wrong way? Rather than having something with explicit or implied outcomes, maybe I needed a new approach, one focused on an open-ended concept? Although Kath Murdoch talks about nudging you along a path, maybe the nudge that matters most is an inquiring mind?

Therefore, my one word for 2020 is ‘space’. Unlike past years, this year will be a wondering about everything associated with the idea of ‘space’. Here is my start:

  • Space as a Non-Human Actor: In Ian Guest’s research into Twitter, he talks about non-human actors.
  • Learning Spaces: What is impact of space on learning?
  • Space within the Mind: What would … do? Who are the defaults we fall back on? Theatre of the mind?
  • Space and Place in the World: What is my place within the world? What space do I take up? How do we perceive it? How does this fit with other people? What are the possible spaces?
  • Coalescent Spaces: Where does the physical stop and the virtual start?

So that is me that year. It is fascinating to reflect upon the journey from capacity to communication to intent to flânerie to space. Really appreciate any thoughts or recommendations about resources on the topic.


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