Join me today at 5pm ET for a defamiliarizing discussion
In which SuperHelpful Letters is renamed "Semantic Satiation".
When I was a kid, I liked to repeat my name back to myself until it sounded weird to me. I found that if I said my name enough, it would become unfamiliar — as if it didn't belong to me or it described something unknown. It was a strange but satisfying feeling.
I never knew there was a name for that feeling until last night when it came up in an episode of Ted Lasso. Here's the clip:
I played the clip for my wife. I showed it to my four-year-old son. When they got tired of it, I watched it a few more times on my own.
I tasted the words in my mouth, Semantic Satiation, in all their alliterative glory.
And now I'm sending the video to you because I think this exercise is worth your attention. It's not that I think you should literally repeat your name or some other familiar word out loud until you experience this weird kind of disassociation — The point is that finding ways to defamiliarize our work is valuable.
Example: Earlier this week, I suggested readers try thinking about their museums' programs as "purpose supporters". Tacking the term "purpose supporter" is a miserable, unnatural way to talk about a museum's offerings, but it's in the Semantic Satiation family. It's a defamiliarizing exercise that begs the question, "What purpose or set of goals does this program or exhibit support?"
Today, I'm inviting you to meet me for a one-hour discussion about "ideal x's and y's". The plan for today's event is to work in small groups or pairs to explore this question I keep asking — "Who is your ideal x for y?". We'll look at a particular project or area of focus and dig into why it exists, who it's for, and what we know about those people we're trying to support.
You can register for the event here:
(If you're a member of the MAP Community, you'll notice that I'm hijacking our usual Thirsty Thursday meetup time for this discussion, so we'll have some newsletter readers joining us and an unusual topic for our usual event.)
As always, reply to this email to let me know your thoughts, or leave a comment on this post. Hope to see you later today.
P.S. The information session for MAP's new Institutional Pilot Program is scheduled for next Tuesday at 5pm ET. We'll be inviting one (maybe two) organizations to participate in the pilot this fall before launching the program in 2022. If you'd like to learn more, you're welcome to register for the session here: https://museumprogress.com/institutions
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