This recent post by Benedict Evans talks about the firehose that is the internet. To illustrate this point, he gives the example of unread emails. If you were to look at your phone right now, how many unread emails would it show?
My work email account is mostly read because reading and responding to emails is one of the ways that I manage to remain gainfully employed. But my personal email currently has 27,230 unread emails. Most of these are newsletters and emails from people wanting to somehow optimize this blog or help me reach 1 trillion followers on Instagram.
Whatever the purpose, it’s almost impossible to keep up. And since having unread asymmetric emails of little consequence doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I let it go.
This is one way to deal with the firehose — acceptance. And in Benedict’s post he makes the argument that maybe the push that we are seeing toward the metaverse is exactly that — full acceptance. “When software eats the world, it’s not software anymore.”
But the opposite way of dealing with information overload is extreme simplification. And there is something so beautiful about minimalism in a world of too much.
Today I learned about a bookstore in Tokyo called Morioka Shoten (shoten = bookstore). It is located in Ginza (pictured above) and the proposition is “a single room with a single book.” The bookstore consists of, you know, a single room and at any given time there is only one book for sale.
Each book is available for six days, after which time a new book is made available. In addition to selling one book at a time, the single room shop is used for things like events and exhibitions.
It’s a radical idea and perhaps it is best suited to Japan. But maybe we all need things that slow us down and focus our attention on only a few things or even a single thing. Maybe we need it to offset the information firehose.
Image: Morioka Shoten