Links and articles about technology, design, and sociology. Written by Rian van der Merwe. Follow @RianVDM
Discovering meaning online: ditch abundance, embrace limitation
In Siamese Dream Frank Chimero addresses the differences between streaming music services (access to an unlimited number of songs) and purchasing music (ownership of a limited selection):
The way you navigate a place of abundance (streaming music) is fundamentally different than how you use a place with limitations (purchased music). In abundance, you’re looking to discover pre-existing value (“Knock my socks off!”), whereas with limitations, you’re looking to milk value (“I’ve got this thing. How can I learn to enjoy it?”).
He goes on to mention how this idea applies to most digital vs. physical environments:
Systems of abundance and limitation are not exclusive, even though we talk like they are. Digital services and technology rarely displace, but frequently add and augment. Your Twitter account didn’t replace your Facebook profile. You’re just splitting time and trying to keep both plates spinning. With digital, it is almost always AND instead of OR.
This is a huge part of our information overload problem. Imagine what would happen if you could only use one social network. Which one would you choose? What would you put there?1 We create these artificial rules about what is appropriate to share on which network, and it’s only going to get harder to keep the separations straight as more and more AND services pop up.
We spend so much time trying to figure out what each network is for, but they’re all for the same thing: human connection. We get fixated on the tools and the medium, and forget that it’s people all the way down. I’m slowly realising that the real power of any network is in the off-network experiences they enable. It’s about the point where a simple Twitter conversation moves to email and a strong friendship. It’s about the point where a discovery of mutual interests online leads to a coffee and an hour-long conversation.
This horse had been beaten to death, but I’ll say it one more time. It doesn’t matter what network(s) you use, how many followers you have2, what your Klout score is, or how Internet famous you are (or aren’t). What matters is the connections you make and the conversations you have. So what we really need is the courage to ditch AND (the place of abundance that’s about the dopamine rush of discovering new things all the time), and embrace OR (the place of limitation that’s about discovering value in the relationships that we already have).