Updated: Jan 31
This week, I am about to embark on a 5 month long journey titled In-Your-Elbows, led by Nora Bateson and stewarded by the International Bateson Institute. It will be a deep dive exploration of Warm Data, meeting fortnightly online. And I am really looking forward to it!
Here is an extract from their website on the definition of Warm Data:
"Warm Data is information about the interrelationships that connect elements of a complex system. Put another way, Warm Data is transcontextual information. Warm Data captures the qualitative dynamics and offers another dimension of understanding to what is learned through quantitative data, (cold data). The implications for the uses of Warm Data are staggering, and may offer a whole new dimension to the tools of information science we have to work with at present." - What is Warm Data?
As part of the application process, we were asked the question "How is Warm Data changing your everyday life?" Given that impro studio will be offering monthly People Need People (PNP) sessions, I figured that my response might make for an insightful blog post too. I've edited it a bit to include links and references for the words which might otherwise be called jargon.
When I first signed up to the Warm Data Lab & PNP online host course in August 2020, I thought this methodology would be a great toolkit to have in my facilitation toolbox and that it would equip me well for my fresh start as a corporate trainer.
Everything I learned on the course was exciting and I felt a convergence between what I thought I already knew and what I was learning. I remember messaging my friend who had recommended the course to me, that I felt like I was coming home - and home I came; home looks very different now that I am looking at it through the Warm Data lens.
Image credits belong to the Warm Data community.
I had long been searching for integrity when it comes to working with other people (regardless of the role facilitator/coach/host/teacher/whatever); the point for me is the rigor of meeting other people in their full complexity.
Having become more attuned to the Warm Data in my relations, my focus has shifted from 'what needs to happen' to 'how is this happening' and from 'what am I going to do' to 'how can I contribute from within my own experiences?'
This prompt question (How is Warm Data changing your everyday life?) boggles me. I am not sure how to write 'about' how Warm Data is changing my everyday life. While writing this, I am feeling a stuckness that is similar to trying to untangle a zen koan.
To me, the changes are the Warm Data, as is my everyday life. I could rephrase as: Warm Data is how I live my everyday life and how I know how to live it.
Perhaps I can respond by saying that labelling my life's lifing as Warm Data in Aphanipoeisis helps me make conscious sense of whatever the complexity is that is moving me through my existence. However, whether the label is 'Warm Data' or something else, ultimately doesn't matter to me.
As is said about the Tao: the word tao is not the tao.
The way you can go
isn't the real way.
The name you can say
isn't the real name.
Heaven and earth
begin in the unnamed:
name's the mother
of the ten thousand things.
So the unwanting soul
sees what's hidden,
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.
Two things, one origin,
but different in name,
whose identity is mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.
- Le Guin, Ursula, 1997, Lao Tzu - Tao Te Ching, p.3
Fo me, the change is in the warmth I feel when I cuddle my partner at 3am after waking up from a nightmare which was an all-dimensional screening experience of the most creative mash-up of fears, hopes and desires. My body adjusts, my brain calms down. This then travels with me through the rest of the night, adjusting throughout, influencing my decision of getting up with the first ring of the alarm or the third snooze.
There is so much left unsaid here.
Skip forward a little and I get to watch the sun rise over a field in North-Holland (Netherlands) which centuries ago used to be the bottom of the ocean, kept dry by feats of engineering that have been made possible by relentless extrapolation of local and far-away 'resources' at their cost.
More unsaid, unnamed, unheard.
I spot a hare.
Jumping ahead, my breakfast is a sourdough which has the unique taste of local flour risen with the yeast form the air that is in my house. A taste that combines my personal efforts with all surrounding circumstances; a taste so specific that no entonation of the word 'tang' can do it justice. Because how would you know?
And yet you do...
Bounce along with me to the rhythms of our heartbeats, play an improv game in the afternoon on Zoom, tell me one of your stories... what does my choice of necklace mean to you today? And what does it mean to the hands who made it? To the stones that are on it?
There are seemingly infinite possibilities of what to say next, but what is said now is the culmination of all that came before. Including all that which was maybe going to be said but got deleted and rewritten again minutes, hours later. And so much more that never crossed my mind to mention
Did you know that I spent almost 2 years (spread out over the course of a teenage decade) living in St. John's, Newfoundland (Canada)?
That a girl I met on a tiny beach while fishing for Capelin invited me to her birthday party and played 'Song for the Ladies' by Good Clean Fun for me?
The first punk rock song I had ever heard.
Or was it 'Hold your Ground' by Gorilla Biscuits?
Now I'm not sure anymore.
I do remember that this was on the livingroom floor in her cabin-like wooden house by a lake, no central heating.
And it still pounds in my heart.
Why am I telling you this? Because when I wrote that there is so much I won't mention here, that was the memory that came to mind. An hour ago, this girl now woman sent me a message on Whatsapp.
Somewhere, there is a version of me that never said hello to her on the beach.
Right here is the version of me that cries during the title song of the musical Come From Away.
"Welcome to the rock, if you come from away, you probably understand about a half of what we say, they say no man's an island but an island makes a man, 'specially when one comes from one like Newfoundland." - Come from Away
My partner just came home from his first trip back to the UK in 18 months. I had hoped to spend some time today finishing the website for impro studio's new improvisation training offers.
Instead, I wrote this.
Now I've decided to make this post because impro studio will soon offer monthly People Need People sessions where we come together and have conversations inspired by the stories that are alive in us. We welcome anyone who wants to meet other people to join us. The sessions are free to attend, as a gift to our guests.
To close this response to the question and title of this blog post, this is the final bit of the song I quoted earlier:
"When the sun is coming up and the world has come ashore, if you're hoping for a harbor then you'll find an open door, in the winter from the water through whatever's in the way, to the ones who will come from away: Welcome to the Rock!" - Come from Away