in medias res
We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.
On October 16th, Mona Simpson delivered a eulogy at her brother’s funeral. Her words are exceptionally moving. It does not take a famous brother, an estranged father, or a career as a novelist to hear yourself in the stories she tells.
We are all in medias res. Every day, in a web of a thousand small stories that make up our life. Mona’s eulogy is beautiful because it does not tell of the big moments that so many of us associate with Steve Jobs. It tells of the quiet ones, the day-to-day miracles, the small victories that lead to brighter futures.
In the middle of a story about wearing pretty clothes in the machine shop.
We had an intense design inputs session today. There’s a lot of research left to be done before we can begin earnest concept development, and we had a good back-and-forth about data fidelity and connectivity strategy and sensor accuracy. After all, if you’re going to deliver a diagnostic measurement, the most important factor is making the sure the datum value is accurate, right?
It’s important to be singularly accurate at each data point, but only because those data points feed a larger trend graph. It can seem counterintuitive in design to focus less on sensor accuracy than on user interface and data management, but people don’t make clinical decisions on singular data points. We don’t overhaul our diets based on one day’s caloric intake value, and doctors don’t change a course of treatment based on one core body temperature reading.
And so we don’t spend our development time on eking more accuracy out of our thermistors and FSRs. We find what’s good enough, and we go after the larger trend. We trade a little bit of accuracy today for a richer understanding of tomorrow’s story.
Any given patient is in medias res. In the middle of a story that is only valuable in context. Data for data’s sake isn’t meaningful. What makes it so is contextualizing the information in a way that helps us modify behavior, or alter treatment.
Lives are not made in big moments. We become the sum of the little things, the trends in our own data. We live at the intersection of our own small stories. In medias res.