HAC: When your own disapproval opens new doors
For more than a decade, I worked internationally in digital and marketing agencies of all thinkable sizes and with an insane speed. And in the last 30% of my working career, I became very upset with the thought that what I was doing had no real meaning or purpose, only in digital, tech, and marketing. As a managing strategist, I built frameworks for experiences, behaviors, and user needs, and I always tried to give my teams tools. Sometimes also very unconventional ways. My mission was based on principles and methods to granularly build a “single source of truth,” offering awesome products like complex websites, apps and services based on data. And then it hooked me, and I understood that a lot of trees are a forest and there is beauty: Why not apply my knowledge to something more “true”, building a framework for humans? A map with all favorite places to give inspiration on where to travel, a framework everybody can add elements and shape/inspire their understanding of what could be good for someone? Like a guiding principle of all thinkable and experienced possibilities? Old pathways to get rid of or to be recycled? New ones to reshape your total presence? A collective companion for a more authentic you?
And this is the blog about, the method which I call Human Atomic Composing (HAC). A method to find this one big, overarching pattern. By collecting new and old ingredients to be able to cook many more meals than you propably know. But mostly: Collection all the already existing knowledge, relate it on each other, reading impacts, building neuronal landscapes. To illustrate it with experiments and at the end hopefully inspire you with the mission to inspire you to try new things and find out if they could make a significant difference in your life. To add value. And finally, being in the position of choosing to keep or letting go of something you are not. To become authentic and content with yourself. Being healthy. Without losing your core. Or wasting too much energy against resistentes.
HAC is a theory, a basic patterned methodology in an atomic way. In which to apply new elements (=atoms) to enrichen the pool of options, to be able to create larger contexts and repositioning of yourself to better choose between options (i.e. A or B). To try new things and lose the shame of even trying itself; to accept to be bad in something before it could turn good (=seeking discomfort first). And to understand that sometimes it’s A, and sometimes it’s B. And that you’ve always choices.
Human Atomic Composing?
HAC can be understood as a basic methodology (way) to build a framework (goal). Probably this part will get its own section with some illustrations but for now, I like to describe it. HAC consists of the three words “Human”, ”Atomic”, and ”Composing”. Behind each word there is an official meaning and an explanation how I take it.
Humans, or homo sapiens (coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1735), are the most widespread species of primates, mainly characterized by the way they move (bipedalism) and their exceptional cognitive skills (since Aristoteles set this focus) due to a large and complex brain. We are highly social and tend to live in complex social structures. We evolved approx. 300.000 years ago from Homo Heidelbergensis in Africa. So all humans belong to the species homo sapiens. This means that in our basic characteristics, we are all the same. Therefore I like to use “Human” in HAC as the absolute totality to which HAC is applicable. Maybe shorter: “Human” opens a context for all humans in all variations, in all contexts with all filters, specialties, differences, etc. because we are all one. And I like to write for all humans and all their shared patterns. Therefore for me, the desired “object” (=human) is a true and wholesome one, because you can’t make graduations in “human”, if you like to look at their most atom existence and how their “atoms” are composed. “Atom” leads us to the next important term used in HAC: Atomic.
It’s easier to explain the noun “Atom” first because everything derives from here: In physics, it’s the smallest particle of matter, that uniquely defines a chemical element. It always consists of a central nucleus which is surrounded by one or more negatively charged electrons. The nucleus by itself is positively charged and contains one or more relatively heavy particles known as protons and neutrons; they are bound to the nucleus by electrical attraction; the number of protons determines the identity of the element. And a simple but very profound take out for HAC is, that atoms are the basic building blocks for matter (we) and that there are fundamental relations because of their polarity. Atomic means relating to power that is produced from the energy released by splitting atoms.
Atoms are the foundation to build everything, but someone transferred these principles into a totally different discipline: design. “Atomic Design” was invented by Brad Frost, a design system consultant. With his transfer work and including visuals the understanding to build things from very small to very big, and that very big things can be demounted to very small things, made the arrangement or composing of building blocks (atoms) very plastic, plausible, and visual. For me, it was a brilliant example to bridge principles from one to another world without losing its core “rule sets”. But what is Atomic design?
“Atomic design is a methodology composed of five distinct stages working together to create interface design systems in a more deliberate and hierarchical manner” (Brad Frost). The five stages of atomic design are:
For HAC I like to change the focus on the stages a little; in my opinion, only the first three ones are of relevance to my approach. I like to stay with the chemical part because it is coherent and doesn’t introduce a “second language” as an add-on. It’s all about our building blocks in attempted totality (atoms) and to what do we arrange them consciously (molecules) without unnatural resistance. Finally, to appear, express, and choose state/mode/presence/behaviors/options, etc. (organism) with an awareness of our achievements/choices and their impact on our life. In the end, Brad Frost pointed it out as well: It is all about modularity. If we understand us humans as a modular construction with eternal opportunities of adding, changing, adapting, rearranging, avoiding, or creating modules, and how we could use this understanding in the HAC-way, it would be very close to my earlier described framework.
The term “composition” originates from the Latin com– “with” and ponere “to place” and means “putting together”, forming something from various things. In visual arts (on which I focus the most in HAC) it means organizing chosen elements according to their context and committed principles/rule sets. For example, classic music is composed and played under the principles of “classic” (specific instruments, specific arrangements, etc.).
The categories or elements for visual design are line, shape, color, space, form, texture, and value. Here you can find certain principles and even suggested rules (i.e. Rule of space or rule of odds) for organizing as well. In the end, my biggest and most simple outtake is “putting something together”. What it is and from which source you take something to generate a pool of “atoms” from which you start to put things together, depends on the context of what you want to put together. Please see here again the example Atomic.