Open Thinkering


Liminality and spare capacity


The time between finishing your degree and graduating.

The duration of an usual and lengthy method of transport.

The time between just before mother and baby come home for the first time.

These are all examples of liminality, “a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the “threshold” of or between two different existential planes.” Liminal spaces tend to promote both reflection and planning and I believe them to be profoundly important.

Spare capacity is exactly what you’d expect it to be: the ability of an individual or organization to do something due to ‘slack’ in schedules, workflows or projects. It’s unallocated time associated with an ability to make something happen.

Both of these are under attack. Liminal states can be all-too-easy to break by accessing virtual spaces, whilst spare capacity is often filled up with needless stuff by individuals and organizations alike.

Significant birthdays and new arrivals both force you to reflect on our lives; I’ve certainly inhabited a liminal space most of this past week. I’ve also been thinking recently about my own spare capacity (‘cognitive surplus‘?), something I never had the luxury of even considering whilst teaching.

There’s a lot of change that I can and should effect in the world. And seeking out liminal spaces and spare capacity are two ways I (and we all) can do just that.

Image CC BY-NC Pulpolox !!!

One thought on “Liminality and spare capacity

  1. I am going overseas for a week~ think that will provide me with a wealth of spare capacity ~:-) And what is more liminal than NZ, home of orcs and hobbits…?

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