We are the Interstitials


This post has been brewing for several days now and has just been tipped into existence by the latest post on Museum 2.0 about deliberately unsustainable business models. Other kindling includes: this comment from 2007 where I suggest some metallurgical references for renaming structural holes; Pete Aston’s tweet about being comfortable with the idea that he’ll be doing something completely different come 2015; and the job titles I variously use to describe to people what I do which include “transdisciplinary independent person”, “investigator” and “interstitial”.

We are the Interstitials is a metaphor based on principles of interstitial solutes in metals.

We are the Interstitials:

red interstitial in a grey matrix

We are smaller than the structures around us. We inhabit the gaps the host matrix cannot occupy itself.
Our small size gives us speed and responsiveness and though the sites we may occupy are ultimately determined by the host matrix, we are mobile and select which of the available positions we inhabit.

Our host is rigid; bound to the other similar entities around it in predictable patterns. We are independent; we may cluster around locations or other interstitials, but our interactions shift as required. We frequently move on, jumping between adjacent sites. There’s no problem, it’s just how we are.

Our host may regard us as defects, but though our numbers are small, our effects are wide-reaching and can drastically change the properties of the matrix we operate within. The energy-fields around us, induced by our presence, often make it easy for us to interact with other types of perceived ‘defect’, often impeding their motion or changing the way they in turn affect the matrix.

We are small, we are mobile, we affect. We are the interstitials.