I recently read a short essay by one of my favourite writers – Craig Mod – on his experience as part of the team that built the fab app ’Flipboard’ for the iPhone. In the essay … entitled “The Digital-Physical: On Building Flipboard for iPhone and Finding the Edges of our Digital Narratives” … Mod talks about the intangibility of his work and wonders how much his work would ’weigh’ after finding a book by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude on The Umbrellas … a series of temporary art installations … 3,100 giant umbrellas situated on the eastern coast of Japan and the western coast of the USA. Published by Taschen, this collector’s book was a massive tome that detailed their whole process … from engineering the artefacts to overcoming bureaucratic nightmares. Mod was … quite rightly … fascinated. He realised that this book, in many ways, formalised what Christo and Jeanne-Claud did and gave form to their creative process.
Mod was so inspired that he sought to formalise his experience working on the Flipboard app. During the remainder of the essay, he details what he did:
- 997 design comps in a shared folder,
- 9,695 git commits,
- a bundle of notebooks full of sketches, and
- dozens of photographs from launch night
… and made them into:
- A book … 276 pages long … 1 foot by 1 foot square … weighing nearly 8lbs.
He formalised the process. He made it ’real’. He gave it edges.
This got me thinking. Mod has taken the boundless edgelessness of the digital world and gave it boundaries and edges. It is the equivalent of physically printing off all our Instagram photos … something a lot of people may be doing right now after their recent legal gaffe.
Our digital lives are boundless … edgeless … they lack substance. They become what we make them … we look to our devices as being the edges … the eReader replaces the individual book … the phone or tablet becomes the physical manifestation for social media expression … the laptop replaces the photographer’s darkroom … that kind of thing.
The device becomes the artefact … in this digital age it is the device that has ’the edges’.
It is this very embodiment that fascinates me … especially at this time of year. It is a fascination that drew me to this essay and one that encouraged me to write this short post.
This embodiment of the boundless … the giving of edges to the edgeless … is the main mystery of many mysteries in Advent. That God should come to Earth and embody His love … literally embody it by taking on “flesh and blood … and moving into the neighbourhood” … as Petersen puts it … is so utterly fascinating to me. It is *the* mystery for me.
God, the boundless creator of all … binds Himself into the form of a man… and lives with us. He physically manifests Himself … not just *as* one of us but *with* us too. This beggars belief.
Just as I can’t fully appreciate the effort it takes to make an iPhone app … with the 997 design comps in a shared folder etc … so I cannot get my head around the boundlessness of God or that He chose to be with us as one of us.
So this Advent … instead of getting all het up about “keeping Christ in Christmas” or the latest stupid advert trying to cause offence (I’m looking at you, Burger King) … let’s take time out to contemplate this mystery. We need more mystery in this world … and we certainly need more mystery and less certainty in the Church … let’s focus on what is, for me, the greatest mystery of all … that God should come to us, as one of us … living and dying with us … so that love can win.
I wish you all a very blessed Christmas and I hope your 2013 will be filled with grace, beauty and peace. God bless you all.