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The New Curiosity And How Can We Best Utilize It
By Ted Hope
We live in an era of cultural abundance. How does this change the way we engage and discover? How has it already done so?
When I moved to NYC I initially was overwhelmed by the options I had before me. A simple newspaper gave me a good heads up of the cornucopia of options on how to utilize my leisure time. I found solace in Woody Allen’s line “In New York, you always know what you are missing.” As a kid from the boondocks, my teen years were rife with anxiety over FOMO. Arriving in NYC, I found a new calm. It no longer was a question of access. The choices were before me; there was no scarcity. And I could step out my door and be there in a blink. I knew I would never be bored in NYC. And I wasn’t.
Now we all live in such a land of plenty, only it’s been pumped up and given a full set of shiny bells and whistles. The internet beckons us always with a better alternative. Why finish reading this article, when there is a list-icle with more attractive faces? We have all been infected with this feeling that somewhere there is not only something better to do with our time, but there is also a deeper knowledge or new tool that will somehow lift us up to a new level. Hurry! Get there NOW!! We have new friendships or business alliances just waiting to bring us deeper satisfactions. There is a book or song or movie that we haven’t even heard of that will soon live forever and ever on our list of the best of all time. And we know this to be true because it has already happened to us. Everyone has now noticed that our life has improved (in some ways) by discovery and serendipity on the internet. We have more than we could ever use.
And their lies the rub. We are overwhelmed. We are all missing out — constantly. We are not connected to the content we will love best or will lift us up the most.
And then when we do employ filters or curators or recommendation engines, we get caught in those silos and echo chambers where we have lost all serendipity, never expanding beyond our current consumption habits. Our pleasure often peaks from when we touchdown in newfound lands — albeit ones that have some semblance to our prior charted worlds. We love to be taken to some place new — as long as it is not too new.
So that’s the problem (overabundance and the consequent overwhelming deluge it brings) and the answer is curation with inherent serendipity. But can an algorithm ever answer that? Is it something we always will need people to solve? And then can they then deliver the hockey stick graph needed to build a business on? I do have hope that this can be the law of the land. The trick is doing this simultaneously as we raise the bar and reach higher with what we create; the abundance demands that too. If we meet this head on we can take advantage of this unique moment in time.
This is one of the moments we are living through: The Rise of The New Curiosity. At least, this is how I see it, define it, and hope it will grow. People know that what they want is out there, somewhere. They have searched and found new and exciting things. They go to the sites that deliver surprises, provided they are not random and still within the range of their desire. But they don’t get enough of it. They are hungry and we should deliver. That hunger will dissipate, but not by delivering for it, but by the opposite. We have an opportunity to manufacture new desire by showing the benefits of this new curiosity. If we don’t use it, we will lose it. This should be a calm to arms for the film business. It is a tremendous opportunity.
What are the next steps? Can we highlight design that helps to spark this flame? Have you seen sites that do it well? Let us know about them, please. We need to celebrate our curators. How come I never see that list of who are the top curators out there? We need some good guides. If critics only celebrate the work that gets the marketing push, how can we find those that raising the bar? Can we all do more? We are missing out. That’s a good thing if we make sure others know about it.
Let’s not let this curiosity NOT spread. May it infect the world.