The OO Tool & The Art of Divining

Anonymous Card Reading

by Bembo Davis

The first generation of unMonasterians were perhaps superior human beings. Among their virtues was a refusal to discuss virtues.

There was a slot among the concept jugglers of the digital media avant guard : Berlin ‘loved our work’, they might be open to our efforts. Under the excuse of using two weeks heightened gathering time as the latest unMonastery ‘summit meeting’, a hoard of unMofolk descended as if zealots. We too loved our work.

In the cauldron of the permissive arts, everything resolves itself as certifiable creativity. However, on stonier ground, we were always going to stub more than one toe. The readily available choice of certain survival becomes to stay at home in the laboratory; many a glorious idea can be further developed far from the vagaries of the field.

How would the re-unMonasterians interface their masses? Our heavy literature was deemed overweighty, another path was desirable. — Time was put aside to build the unMon BIOS (Basic input/output system) — the expressed need was to design an interactive step by step project development simulation that would engage the entire human being…

The unMonastery presence at Transme diale may have been a jump from rugged, service-minded authorised squat — to polite, eager culture installation, but it bore at least one interesting fruit. The gathering of the clan for much desirable deliberation prior to four days of palm rubbing with potentially like-mined souls was granted a third purpose: as a deadline for the grand unveiling of the unMon BIOS, our all purpose intro to the unMonastery for all those eager to emulate. The Method Kit card set had languished unexamined since July; these could be sent to the printers without further ado. The moderately annotated Book of Greater and Lesser Omissions (BGLO) was to be rendered physical. Extracted from the wikis of its creation to be laid out in a more readable format by house graphic designer Luisa Lapacciana, and then elegantly hand-bound in a limited edition of five that quoted the tufa walls of Matera as its dust jacket, it would stimulate many a curious finger.) With some urgency, the writers’ committee dug back in to bash out a distributable, pithy and to the point, Stakeholders Handbook as the missing front end agent of direct communication that could be thrust into fists. Meanwhile, in far-off Nottingham, four unmoaners gathered to develop a multi-entry game that would unite these three elements as the definitive interface between the TM public and possible future incarnations.

What’s at Stake?

The result was the unMon unGame, an attempt to roadmap the intricacies of the theoretical unMonastery as experienced during the very real Matera Prototype run. The game’s models were many, it rules remained underdeveloped.
A game requires active players, having grown up among a world of fantasy figures, many of our crowd felt drawn to the arbitrary truth; they seemed less inclined to present as their real selves or the fruits of genuine contemplation. By the time we gathered in Berlin for tuition it was revealed unto us that no one had actually played the game as devised. Once again we would launch without a protocol. We spent several uncomfortable hours crouched around some impressive murky graphics; given good will something could be made of the suggested framework provided one had sufficient background knowledge; even at this late date we risked playing with ourselves.

The modern human’s endless fascination with itself builds centripetal force: attention falls upon minutiae, vision constricts. That which is in front of us is the stuff of wonder; turning outwards is a distraction; the interface is between me and my media. On the eve of facing our public stream our game plan remained inarticulate; a twist was necessary.

To place our potential recruits as the subject matter of the exploration of the unMonastery story, a simplification was required. We found it more politic to wade in almost empty handed. Sans game board, but with our lime green card deck depicting facets of the forces experienced in Matera, we would meet the good people one to one. We offered a card reading. (A card reading that oddly enough had precedence in our collective birth; it echoed a quaint evening in the gallery cellars of LOTE#2 and an impromptu confrontation with fate at LOTE#4.) Around whatever available surface, we launched a simple story telling exercise that would reflect a possible scenario of living a life-cycle in an unSpecified unMonastery.

The out-come felt like the birth of life-long friendships. That each card referenced either a BGLO chapter or a page in the Stakeholders Handbook was not always revealed. By erecting the essential references upon a constellation of six random cards, we could reveal enough of a subjective telling of the unMon history in an engaging, embracing manner. Instead of a most likely overwhelming overview of the interplay between our 58 card themes — we offered a correlation between people’s individual concerns and an arbitrary (or not, depending upon your belief system) microcosm. The personal meetings that transpired provided a personal interface that won us friends for life.

The OO Tool

That we had failed to plot out this strategy in detail beforehand was unfortunate. The Card Readings’ enormous success, and the fact that most everyone in our team felt secure enough in the form so as to try their hand at pondering the future of perfect strangers, pointed to its value as the intended recruitment tactic.

There is a unit in The Book of Mistakes (BGLO) called Strategic Thinking. Had we taken the time to do this thinking, we would have likely gotten beyond the immediate goal of satisfying our generous sponsors. Our presence in Berlin at such a cornerstone institution as Transmediale should have supported nothing less than the establishment of the first German unMonastery chapter. The card readings were seed sowing, and a germination period may be lengthy, but we clearly met the raw materials for both one and two new homes. We cannot afford to work without clear, articulate goals.

Two attempts to create strategic overviews were composed for the Berlin Summit. These took the form of modified Logistics Framework Analyses. The first was general: what should we do with our presence to meet our Obtainable Objectives? Although it appeared online only a few days before our gathering, it expanded into a useful list. However, without being subject to the ‘collective wisdom of groups’, one person’s analysis will inevitably remain a sketch or a proposal. Collecting comments on google docs about its content is not proper procedure; with its catalogue of hidden assumptions, clear actions and verifiables, the LFA is meant as a tool to stimulate collective ownership, the terms are to be challenged and stretched, everyone should partake in its composition. Although suggested at a key juncture in Matera this clear breakdown of intentions and efforts has yet to be integrated in the unMon battery of work strategies.

OO matrix

We moved most of our obtainables forward. The key effort of playing endless rounds of ‘the game’ in order to familiarise everyone with the BIOS content and to generate a draft protocol, became subservient to a series of thematic open dinners that, while not always remaining on topic, broadened our family. The degree in which we ‘honoured Matera’ took an interesting twist.

The second OO analysis was devised to help distill the framework of our desired organisational structure. Again the key element of articulated hidden assumptions allowed us to circumvent more finicky procedural detail until after we had designed a structure that fulfilled our basic needs. The resultant decision will be written up in detail elsewhere, but the basic form is that we give ourselves three months to actively explore existent organisational models to see what best meets our needs. The perhaps intricate division of labour and responsibilities between two tiers of the unMonastery community (known provisionally as unMonastery Metanational ) will prove our next major challenge.

The compression of the game playing to an exercise in minimalism produced our most positive surprise. As a recruitment interface it shone. Whereas large amounts of attention would have been sucked into the mechanics of projecting a fictional full-scale unMonastery scenario board game, in its concentrated one to one version more factual information could be exchanged.