The Adjacent Possible
In 2002 Stuart Kauffman, theoretical biologist who studies the development and evolution of organisms, introduced the idea of the adjacent possible, this being the range of options that exist from a given (and ultimately shifting) point. His idea was ‘…it just may be the case that biospheres on average keep expanding into the adjacent possible. By doing so they increase the diversity of what can happen next.’ (Edge.org) If you like, it’s similar to the idea of a room with multiple doors, each one leading to a new room with a new range of doors that weren’t accessible from the initial location.
Nancy Hillis takes up this notion in her book The Artist’s Journey. She says ‘the act of moving forward creates a new set of steps that would have been difficult or impossible to predict beforehand.’
There seems to be an absolute treasure trove of thinking and working applications of the adjacent possible. It’s a bit mind-boggling.
The adjacent possible. I love it.