The Zone of Uncertainty

The Zone of Uncertainty

There’s a concept in high-level thinking about measurement called the Zone of Uncertainty. It’s the turning point that signals a scale’s movement from one graduation to the next. When things start to get a little heavy, your bathroom scale crosses the Zone of Uncertainty and springs from 130lbs (weighing myself) to 131lbs (weighing myself while eating a pound cake). It’s as simple as that. And delicious.

There’s a metaphor in there somewhere, and I’ll be darned if I’m not going to winnow it out.

As an inMotion writer, I need to plunge my imagination into whatever script is at hand. Remember those low-budget haunted houses with macaroni brains and seedless eyeballs? My job is like that, but more sanitary. I trade in client-specific knowledge. With each new contract, the producer clears a space on the bookshelf for the project binder, and I clear a space in my mind for the tide of facts and terms and talking points that I’ll maneuver into a shooting script.

Last night, lounging in my local pub, I found myself falling into easy conversation with the stranger sitting next to me who happened to be a veteran freelance journalist. “It’s like being a student forever,” she said. “And each new day you’re enrolled in a different program, and you want nothing more than to become an A+ expert.”

Yes, I thought: yes. That’s exactly what it’s like for me, too.

So here I am, a producer and (wholly, essentially) a writer, not so far from my adolescent dream. When I really get moving on a script, when my hands are deep in that macaroni-brain empire, I like to leave my desk and migrate up to inMotion’s coffee bar. Perched on a stool, with a bank of frosted windows tipping afternoon sunlight into my lap, I can plug in, tune out, and work in relative peace.*

Here’s the thing: inMotion is expanding like a pair of lungs, breathing in all that we can hold, filling every chamber with new and established talent. And that’s not just figurative; we really are adding to our workforce with powerful speed. Every suite, office, booth, and chair has been claimed and our fridge is a game of Tupperware Tetris. Even the boardroom has been temporarily converted into an editing lab, which looks like this:

The energy is mercurial, and the output is forever growing – but there are challenges. Writers working with editors. Motion graphics guys who see in twelve dimensions working with producers who see in deadlines and budget ceilings. Executives with long, respectable careers learning the lingo of hotshot neophytes who make everything they touch go viral.

People, this is the Zone of Uncertainty.

As I sit at this coffee bar, someone comes by to fish her low-cal hundred-mile vegan tofutti from the bowels of the fridge while someone else defrosts a deep-dish triple-cheese meat lover’s pizza. At least once a day a thirsty staffer circles the entire building with a pen and sticky note, taking orders for the coffee shop down the street, and the list unravels for miles: lattes, frappes, extra sweetener, skinny, double-long, extra pump. We are all so different; we are all so determined; we are all so caffeinated.

We are all students of each other. Together, like a muscular rugby scrum, we are advancing through this transition. There’s no measure for this, no imperial way to tell when we’re holding the pound cake. But there are these zones. Inching ahead, absorbing. Realizing, at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday, when the place thrums with energy and everyone is focused, that the Zone of Uncertainty may be behind us, and that we’ve reached a newer, mightier graduation.

*Footnote: Intuition always tells me to retreat to the studio, where 1,000-square-feet of soundproofed calm roll like a desert oasis from my feet, but just my luck: when we’re not wrapping up a shoot in there, we’re preparing for the next one. What’s a girl with a laptop to do? (To be fair, that’s why we built the thing: for shooting.)

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