All the changes that have been introduced over the past decade via the Internet have been focused on one thing. Sharing.
Sharing thoughts, sharing photos, sharing work. Sharing experiences … well, just the attractive parts, but hey, that's still sharing. Above all else, I appreciate the ability for anyone, almost anywhere, to share their thinking or experience or knowledge by writing and publishing on the Internet. Being unshackled from some of the barriers of times past is perhaps the greatest benefit of our online connections. But there’s a real big problem.
There's way too much of it.
My bucket overfloweth
Whatever tool you use to collect this writing, your “read later” list, your bookmarks, your animated GIFs, it's most likely full. Full to the point you'll never read everything carefully stored within. Full to the point you stress over it, at least a little. You have guilt.
For several years, many people have declared email bankruptcy. Now such a thing as Instapaper bankruptcy exists. As if there were some third party out there, watching your count grow, keeping track of the number within that red circle, waiting for some unknown-yet-still-sensed threshold to be broken, ready to pounce.
Be ready, because if you blink, you might miss it. Miss what? Something good!
Can we all agree to just let go? To stop caring that we might miss something big, something important? Reality is, we are all missing something important in front of us every day, while we carefully scan our feeds, our feeds, our FEEDS, missing the suffering, the joy, the simple state of being all around us. Our families and friends, our neighbours, our complete strangers.
Let’s let go together. The output is not going to stop, to lessen, anytime soon. We can never read it all, study it all, or even skim it all. We certainly shouldn't Fave it all.
Don't buy the lie
A few common themes, perhaps subconsciously, have become popular of late (guilty as charged, right here):
- In the years ahead, those who can separate the chaff from the wheat will have the power.
- To curate will be more valuable than to create.
Capital B, capital S. Here's a few themes that run counter to this, for the better:
- To create is better than to consume.
- But create for the few, not for the many.
- Create for those you can see face to face.
- Consume, but remember that the dose makes the poison.
- When you consume something that is good, great, transcendent, consume it over and over … meditate on it, then act on it, be changed by it.
Because the problem is deep
Trent Walton wrote recently on how we, as an industry, need to be designing in order to create meaningful relationships. Amen!
But I think he underestimates the problem. Trent refers to and quotes Farhad Manjoo writing for Slate magazine, then offers his solution:
In my mind, if users leave they’re just doing what the design told them to do because all the crufty noise linking elsewhere is the most engaging thing on the page.
While I agree with Trent that Slate and so many other media sources (and blogs) treat content and the reader in the wrong way, creating a user friendly, content focused design is not enough.
It's not enough because we're so used to searching for the new, that even when served up well presented content that's of interest to us, we still often do not read it. We'd rather just keep looking for NEW stuff to read, rather than read anything.
Until that changes, until we change ourselves as readers, then all the smart design in the world won't make a difference.
Of course, I'm being slightly hyperbolic here. We still read. A little. But the article in Slate hits home … the shift is still leaning farther towards not reading than to reading. I want that to change for my life.