Tuning as …

Calibration is a process of aligning a measuring instrument with a standard: eg placing markings along a length of a wooden ruler that correspond to the markings on a standard length of steel. Scientific instruments, thermometers, electrical measuring devices, and touch screens require calibration. “Calibration” has currency as a term in many contexts. For example, judging panels in the assessment of UK university research are required to “undertake initial calibration exercises” to confirm that they are marking to the same scale and that they agree on standards. This is presumably a social process where committee members develop a sense of each other’s value systems.

The calibration of musical instruments is generally referred to as “tuning,” a term also familiar in architecture. The architect Peter Eisenman wrote about “fine tuning” in the context of a park design made up of overlayed site plans. Design involves so many tweaks and tunings to bring building elements, grids and patterns into alignment, or to adjust them to the site or the particularities of the context.

Tuning might well be the metaphor of our age. Perhaps smart phones are incredibly sophisticated technologies for tuning human interactions, and our relationship with our environment.


  1. anastasia says:

    It’s fascinating how your concept of tuning describes so finely something so tangible and at the same time so elusive in our everyday life. I am also referring to your other texts on tuning

  2. Samia Hussain says:

    “Tuning might well be the metaphor of our age. Perhaps smart phones are incredibly sophisticated technologies for tuning human interactions, and our relationship with our environment.”

    I would like to backup this statement.

    It goes without saying that the amount of people who use smartphones to interact across social network platforms has greatly increased. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to use terms like ‘Facebook me’, to ‘tweet about it’, to ‘follow’, to ‘poke’ and so on; it has become a social norm for many people in many different countries.

    Personally I feel that social networks push these types of terminology to ‘tune’ the way that people now interact with each other. Each brand of social network tries to popularise themselves and in turn make themselves the leading social network. It is in the same vein as the late 90s/early 2000s where it was common place to hear ‘text me’ instead of ‘ring me’ and instead of ‘write me’. These days, it is not uncommon to hear the phrase ‘whatsapp me’. Smartphones are merely catalysts of a new technology sweep and will help to infuse the world with new interactions through a technilogical medium.

    It is also down to a matter of convenience; to write (though I’m sure enough people still do) is not the most efficient way to get a message to somebody when you can now email other people thousands of miles away on your phone prompting an almost immediate response. Smartphones reinforce the fact that the world is changing, and that we as humans can be tuned to evolve with it.

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