Universe modelling creates a "bauble" world. Within the bubble of the world, ideas and forms work themselves to conclusions without necessarily needing to interact with the user's understanding of their greater environment. These self-contained worlds of experimentation are analogous to the planning process in design.
The eventual promise of the bauble world is that some of the ideas that arise from it will be worth inclusion in the user's wider understanding of their world. In some cases, the promise is that the entire bauble can be accepted without alteration. These are the celebrated "paradigm shifts," which signal a move to a greater understanding of all the world. More commonly, however, elements will migrate from the bauble into the matrix piecemeal. Users test baubles by throwing ideas at them, and play with ideas by running them through the baubles. This allows them to develop an understanding of the value and importance of either by the result.
Though we can have many baubles floating in our minds, here is always a push to unify them, to develop a larger, simpler, more easily understood model of our world. Isolation is used to develop new ideas, to solve problems, to predict results, but a fractured understanding of the world is generally seen as pathological.
Developing new models of the universe allows the user to maintain mental flexibility, to be prepared for new problems which might crop up in their lives. This type of play is required for survival. It is a significant argument for the requirement of play in design.
Document Name: tc.play.universe.htm
Copyright (c) 1997 -- Mike Fletcher
Reproduction for other than personal use prohibited without express written permission from the author.