08
Mar 13

Big Enough for Luck

(Note: This is a piece is part of a larger exploration I’m working on around serendipity. You can find all the articles here.)

It occurs to me that it’s really hard for serendipity to strike when you’re tackling small or easy problems. In fact, serendipity seems to show up when people struggle with really large, almost unsolvable problems; challenges so big that you start to look in new and novel places for new inspiration.

In thew spirit of solving really big problems and inviting serendipity, Google has created Google X. It a lab where they create programs known as “moonshots”, (I think in reference to Kennedy’s decision to go to the moon.) These moonshots tackle problems that are so difficult they will take years to accomplish. This is how a search company can manage to launch a self-driving car, or consumer heads-up displays. They’re putting some of the brightest minds in the world on these problems, but they’re also slaving away for long periods. It’s the duration that’s interesting to me….the longer slog seems to invite more moments of serendipity

I think to really engage the creative, pattern-spotting portions of our brains we have to solve problems that are big enough to invite some struggle. Framing a problem where you’ll probably fail, where you have enough passion to start again, and where there is no correct answer from the outset, these are the challenges that invite serendipity. 


26
Feb 13

Systems Vertigo

I think science fiction has made me a better designer. (Well, I should say I hope science fiction is making me a better designer.) I used to pass on science fiction because I had this sort of arrogant view that with so many real people and real stories to be read, fantasy just didn’t seem that interesting. Yah, so, that was stupid. About a year ago, I tripped into some old space fiction and I was really inspired by the depth of thought that had gone into creating these new worlds.

In all this, I realized that most of the classic science fiction writers were actually futurists who were trying to figure out how the world might work one day. I sort of reasoned that if I was trying to figure out how the world might work one day (albeit, in a shorter timeframe, with fewer rocket ships). I probably could learn a thing or two from them.

This all brings me to one of my current obsessions; space elevators. I happened upon a talk by Matt Jones from Berg about around 18 months ago and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. (You should definitely watch the talk.)

Jones frames his whole talk around the idea of systems & vertigo. He makes a really good point that because our worlds have become so complex, sometimes instead of evolving the systems we get caught up gawking at how complex and interrelated things can be.

He quotes his partner Matt Webb and shares this story about a space elevator, a futuristic construct that carries people between earth and space. The system is held aloft by the earth’s geo stationary orbit. Jones goes on to describe the scale of the elevator like this…

If you’re standing close enough to see it, you can’t see the other end. Yet if you’re standing far enough away to see the see the both ends of the space elevator, it’s going to be completely invisible; it’s going to be too thin to see. And that’s kind of where we are; we’re in it and yet we can’t see it.

I think about this a lot. It’s really helpful when working through business, system, and cultural problems. How do you move between understanding the system and designing the pieces that will evolve the system. It’s easy to lose perspective, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the system’s complexity. 

There’s probably a lot of engineering metaphors that can guide us in systems design; the practice of looking for tensions, isolating subsystems, etc. But we’re still very early at taking a swing at this. It’s sexy, but I think most of that’s because we fall in love with complexity. (It’s sort of an ego stroke to tackle/understand really gnarly concepts.)

It’s very hard to redesign a system the same way you redesign a product or service. It’s also really hard to get a sizable system moving, (much less shut it off and switch to a new version) as you would with products/services. To have any impact at this scale, you have to work with existing forces within the system, and create interventions to nudge things. I guess in a way to affect the very large, you have to start very small.


24
Feb 13

The Double Bind

(Note: This is a piece is part of a larger exploration I’m working on around serendipity. You can find all the articles here.)

One of the more important points I happened upon during all this research is the idea of the double bind. It was the closing thought to one of the more enlightening pieces I’ve read on this topic.

A double bind is when someone feels the logical and emotional weight of being asked to choose between two contradictory ideas. And more than a simple a-or-b choice, the person feels an extra anxiety because either choice feels incorrect. For example, “choose a direction, but remain open to spontaneity”. The question fails you before you can even answer.

These sort of challenges are embedded in every part of understanding serendipity. It’s probably the root principle that makes this topic so easy to understand, but so hard to explain. It’s also what makes serendipity such a human experience. It’s sort of it’s own kind of faith. This passage really struck a chord with me:

In truth, many circumstances that seem irreconcilable are actually two-sided situations that we need to learn to embrace, not suffer through. Instead of treating them as opposing forces, planned serendipity teaches us to view these two sides as complementary.

That’s how designers think. They bring harmony to what seems to be opposing ideas. This inspired me because I’ve felt like the recent popularity of design has robbed it of some of it’s magic. Not the ‘dark arts’ kind of magic, more the mental judo described above. Seeing the parallels that link serendipity and design remind me that design is also a fundamentally human exercise. It also reminded me that good design still has a bit of magic to it. (And that made me smile.)


22
Feb 13

Mindful Mind Tricks

(Note: This is a piece is part of a larger exploration I’m working on around serendipity. You can find all the articles here.)

So far in for this series, I’ve tried to write a bit about how to foster serendipity through personal interactions. Then we looked at how networks can effect how we connect to new information and ideas. For this post I’m going to explore how our own mindset can encourage or eliminate the possibility of serendipity.

The Approach Pattern
Serendipity is an exercise in perception. From the thoughts in your mind, to the stimulation of your environment, you are digesting vast amount of data and your mind is constantly sorting things out. To paraphrase Glauco Ortolano, ‘Serendipity is about finding something you didn’t know you were looking for.’ In that spirit, *how* you solve your problem is as important as *which* problem that your solve.

As a designer, when we’re tackling a problem in the studio, it’s quite common for us to distinguish between design and analysis. A design mindset is generative; when you’re in that frame of mind you arrive at an answer by creating more and more options until you see a pattern that moves you forward. An analytic (or reductive) mindset assumes that you have all the options in front of you and you need to choose the best option to proceed. The former will leave you with tons of new ideas (some good, some not), the latter will deliver a thoughtful recommendation selecting the best option available. It’s a simplified scenario, but even thinking about this comparison illustrates that a significant difference in problem solving.

Taking this exercise and applying it to serendipity, we can see that we’re going to fare far better when we’re creating and recombining new ideas. To get to something new, we need to remain curious and explore what could be. (In some sense, our actual moment of serendipity is a little bit like that  pattern recognition moment from the previous paragraph…only we can’t plan when we’ll spot the pattern.) So, err’ing towards generative exercises and playing with ideas encourages your mind to be in the remix mode you need to stumble into that new juxtaposition. This is probably not surprising, but when you consider most businesses become successful by hiring really smart, really analytical problem solvers, you’ll see that adopting this frame of thought is easier said than done. 

Distracting Rewards
Beyond how we entertain ideas, our motivation to solve the problem really frames how we approach the challenge. I won’t spend much time here because the bookshelves and business rags have beat this topic to death and Dan Pink’s book Drive (here’s a great summation) probably make the quickest work of lots of research with similar findings. The bottom line is that when people think they are solving a problem for money or other extrinsic motivators, they have a tougher time coming up with creative answers. Challenges that offer rewards literally change the way people think about solving a problem. (yet we all work for some sort of money, so this is a hairy problem.)

Blind Faith
Since serendipity is act of faith, we’ll probably be best primed to experience it by starting with little leaps of faith in our own lives. This could be a small exercise, letting a stranger choose your restaurant and your dish for dinner, or boarding a city bus without knowing the destination. It could be a larger act, like moving to a city without knowing anyone and having no job. The point is, when you place yourself in these moments something will happen (you just have no idea what). And in this moment, it will be up to you to make the best of things. It’s an exercise in optimism and in finding value in the unexpected. In these cases, there is no better or worse choice; it’s all unexpected.

Through these exercises, we learn the value of being uncomfortable and the act of letting go. We’re forced to embrace moments when we just don’t have an answer, a right answer doesn’t exist. This is when we the spiritual side of serendipity starts to show up. There’s a confidence that things will work out, we’re just not sure how. You’ve created a small, safe space. Now move this same idea to a small exercise at work…rinse, repeat, scale.

The Dangers of Satisfaction
To hold a modern technology lens against this point of serendipity, you can probably guess what I’m wondering about. We live in a world where answers are always at our fingertips and we’re primed for immediate resolution. Our dopamine receptors are raging from all this immediate satisfaction, but our creative mind struggles because while we’re absorbing tons of knowledge, we’re tackling less and less really large problems, (that my perception anyway).

There’s that old chestnut about the mind being a wonderful servant and a terrible master, (it’s also my favorite DFW piece). To set yourself up for serendipity, you’re going to have to think about how you’re thinking. And my guess is that it’s going to be a little difficult at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. BTW, if you’re in the market for creativity exercises, Dan Pink’s A Whole new Mind is absolutely excellent. (And with that, I reach my limit of Dan Pink references in a single post.) 


20
Feb 13

Luck & the Network

(Note: This is a piece is part of a larger exploration I’m working on around serendipity. You can find all the articles here.)

It would be impossible to explore serendipity and not spend a lot of time thinking about networks. Even subjectively, we equate people’s connectedness to be an indicator of their good fortune. As you might guess, this is only part of the story. I’m learning that there are some surprising elements of how networks actually foster better conditions for serendipity, here’s a few.

Strong and Weak Ties
So, as is pretty well documented, networks are made up of strong and weak ties. To understand how these ties play with serendipity, it’s good to think about what sort of data flows they facilitate. Strong ties are the deeper relationships that exist in your life. It’s likely that you have similar values as your strong ties, and that they might connect you to new opportunities. As Reid Hastings recently blogged, “if you’re looking for opportunity, you’re really looking for people.”

When we’re searching for serendipity (which is different than opportunity), it turns out strong ties might not be as helpful as weak ties. Because of the redundancy, they become a bad place to look for new stimulus. For serendipity, the weak ties are much more valuable as they’re likely to contain a less considered point of view, or a divergent thought.

As a side note: Through this lens on networks, the design process and the view on serendipity are almost identical. If you want new ideas and inspiration, go to a place you would never expect; you’re looking for extreme examples of style. If you stay with familiar sources of inspiration, it’s going to be very hard to move past previous thought.

For fun, LinkedIn has a great app that visualizes your network based on the connections you’ve created in their service. It’s pretty interesting to see the major grouping and the proportions in your connections.

The Myth of the Maven
One of the more interesting stories I came across in my research was this story of a Yahoo researcher disproving Malcolm Gladwell’s maven concept set forth in his famous Tipping Point text. In 2008, Duncan Watts published a paper that proved that it wasn’t actually a small, powerful group of influencers in that encouraged massive change. The masses basically adopted something when they collectively wanted it.

While this is unfortunate for Gladwell, it leads us to this reminder that networks themselves have a preference, and they collectively filter and promote. In the infancy of the net, it was predicted that one day we would have a great collective discourse that would drive change. Sadly, this never happened, the networks propensity to act as a hive mind leaves us more polarized than curious. So given the limits of our own networks it becomes important to work across many desperate networks.

When we think about how networks filter for content, we’ll do better spending time where there’s a large amount of anonymity and the community acts as a meritocracy. With these principles, you’re dialing down the social influencers and dialing up the influencers based on their ideas. Dribbble, Pinterest, and Svpply are sort of designed to function this way; they allow people to navigate content based on weak ties and function largely on merit (rather than influence.) So these are digital examples that encourage serendipity. While Eric Schmitt is known for referring to Google as a “serendipity engine“, I can’t agree – there’s been so much work to refine and hone that search algorithm, you won’t walk away with anything except exactly what you were looking for.

Growth through Steroids
As we think about how technology is changing how we experience serendipity, one of the first places my mind goes is this explosive growth in our networks. It’s distorting the way we think about the people we know. Casual connections become recorded into permanence as technology helps us track everything.

We’ve blown way past Dunbar’s number of 150 (at least in our online friend metrics.) And thanks to Facebook, the six-degrees of separation is down to 4.74. Beyond the connections, these networks have become social spectacle in their own right as we track each other’s relationships and careers. And as tacit concepts like networks become more explicit, taking on different roles in our lives, we begin to use them for different purposes and distort some of the underlying principles. (See: Klout.com)

Final Thoughts
There’s a consistent “inversion theme” running through most of this research. The things I perceive to be the most important aren’t usually as impactful as what initially appear to be edge pieces. While the network is an important deciding factor of what you experience, what is convenient doesn’t really seem to yield what you hope (the network has an inbred opinion.)

To combat all this, you have to have the natural curiosity to find new inspiration that fuels this recombination that births serendipity. Also, to actively work with serendipity and force new collision means that you always have to work with the meta level; how/why you’re solving the problem you’re working on is as important as the actual problem you solve…


19
Feb 13

Exploring vs. Committing

(Note: This is a piece is part of a larger exploration I’m working on around serendipity. You can find all the articles here.)

Most of us are pretty familiar with the trade-off that exists between exploring new ideas and committing to a defined direction. We might feel anxiety when it’s time to stop entertaining new ideas and start deciding on a concept to build. There might be this nagging feeling that maybe we hadn’t gotten a great idea so we weren’t going to have a great concept.

The tension between exploring and committing is a big part of understanding serendipity. I had assumed that exploration would have been the favored state. You know, remain really flexible, digest tons of ideas, mixing and mashing them all together until you experience this glowing moment where the heavens open up wit this unbelievable idea. (Yah….ok.)

This whole explore forever mode actually turns out to be the worst path to serendipity, luck happens better through commitment. At the heart of serendipity is this act of recombination; you’re remixing ideas and experiences in your head and in your conversations with others. Through this process you’ll begin to see new patterns and insight. So, as it goes, if every idea you consider is flashy, new and unconnected, it will be hard to see something different in the whole. There is value to stewing in things a little bit. 

Commit and Create
Beyond recombining ideas, it turns out that committing to an idea has a powerful force on your environment. Instead of evaluating everyone else’s ideas, you become a beacon for your own. Lane Becker and Thor Muller lay it out perfectly in their book Get Lucky*:

Commitment, an essential skill of planned serendipity, involves organizing ourselves around an overriding purpose. Commitment means having a point of view that’s so strong and expressed so powerfully that it actually transforms the environment around us. In turn, our commitment stirs up latent desires and intentions in those who work with us, inspiring in them the conviction they need to act on those intentions in situations where they otherwise might not have. When we are fully committed we serendipitously run into things already on our path and recognize opportunities uniquely suited to us, even as others miss these opportunities completely.

This sort of blew my mind. It’s completely obvious, yet the nuance is important. In the past, I’ve written about the power of committing to an idea. But I had argued for commitment in order to psych yourself up for a gnarly challenge, or work through a problem by sketching your ideas. I hadn’t considered how much committing might help shape your environment, which is such a powerful idea. It’s human nature for people want to help others, and this type of commitment plays right into our best intentions. Herein lies the power of co-working spaces, meet-ups, communities of all sorts. Life has the chance to become a self-fulfilling prophecy of the best kind.

The Perils of the Pivot
So along with just understanding how serendipity might occur, I’m trying to think about how our rapidly changing environment might change the way we experience serendipity. You can probably see where this is going. If we can build and test ideas faster than ever could this rob us of the opportunity that a longer-term commitment affords us?

The tech start-up world is littered with these stories of companies who pivoted to brilliant ideas, and we don’t often here the stories of the unsuccessful pivot (mostly because the company didn’t live to tell the tale.) Choosing to explore an idea or commit to a direction is an important question to return to often. It’s also important to not overlook how much a bold commitment might create more opportunities than endless exploration.   

*Muller, Thor; Becker, Lane (2012-03-09). Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business 


19
Feb 13

Dissecting Serendipity

(For the next few posts I’m going be sorting through some thoughts on Serendipity. I proposed a panel around the topic because it seemed like a good way to force myself to dig deeper into the idea. You can find all the articles here.)

Where to begin?
Serendipity is a difficult idea to wrestle with. On the surface, it’s a fortuitous turn of events that leads to an unexpected outcome. The mechanics that create this turn of events are much more nuanced and complicated that you might expect. The existence of serendipity is indisputable, yet it’s occurrence is unpredictable. So much of our behaviors and culture are built on the idea of serendipity, it’s probably worth digging a little deeper. (There is that idea of blind luck, like buying a winning lottery ticket, but that’s not what we’re after here.)

To plow an even field through this topic, it’s probably best to begin at the beginning (sorry). I’ll spare you the etymology and the story about the Princes of Serendip, though I might be the first (almost every piece I’ve read has yet to resist it.)

The Definition
On the analytic side of things, serendipity is a collision in your mind that requires three main ingredients; pre-existing knowledge, behaviors that encourage you to see new patterns, and, most importantly, stimulus that reframes what you’ve known to see something new. An over-simplified equation it might look like this (my apologies to the field of graphic design).

Equation

There is an ocean of nuance in each of the pieces of this equation, but these seem to be the main tenants. I’ll dig into the nuance later, but this diagram helps me organize a lot of the axioms around serendipity. First, it builds off what you know. (Which means experiencing serendipity is completely personal; no one organizes all his or her knowledge in the same way.) Second, certain behaviors better prepare you to recognize or invite serendipity. Finally, it’s triggered by an unanticipated experience; so we can’t predict when it will happen, we can only prepare in hopes that it might happen.

At the heart of serendipity is idea of recombination; taking what we thought we know and adding additional inspiration to reframe what we know. In this moment, we might find new insight from past thoughts or a new avenue of exploration. Ironically, because this reframing seems to play on some singular mind chemistry, serendipity isn’t a group experience. But, without the collective to inspire new thoughts, serendipity would be almost impossible.

Beyond the Definition
After we dissect the idea of serendipity into its working parts, it’s really interesting to think about the more spiritual side of the idea. It’s one of those ideas that exists through the magic of who we are as humans and how we learn about our world. To prepare for serendipity invites some of our best human qualities. We need to be insatiably curious, optimistic, diligent, and weather a bit of blind faith – these are the lenses that encourage us to find new perspectives.

Through this research, I’ve found that the process people use to prepare for serendipity is very similar to a design process. Great designers steep their minds in a problem and, through their creative process, tease out something beyond what they knew. They prompt themselves with different stimuli, they share their directions which shapes their environment. They don’t know the end when they begin. Both of these processes invite us to learn and experiment with the intention of arriving at a new idea.

Tensions
Roger Martin has written about the idea of an opposable mind. He describes an ability in successful leaders to hold conflicting ideas in tension, refusing to let a single idea prevail. (Not surprisingly, artists and designers also work in tensions.) Preparing for serendipity really requires us to navigate tensions in a similar way. To invite Serendipity, we’re asked to…

  • Commit to a direction yet remain spontaneous to new opportunities.
  • Lose ourselves in the problem while retaining some mental distance from the work. 
  • Become an expert in our field while finding patterns outside our industry. 

So this is what I’m working through; I’d love to hear *any* thoughts and reactions. There is no shortage of research and books in this area. I’ll try to note/publish everything I’ve encountered and reference the thinking where I’ve found it. Beyond understanding how to prepare for serendipity, I’m especially interested in its parallels to the design process. I’m also curious in how the way we approach serendipity might be changing in our very connected world (this later interest is the subject of the panel I mentioned at the beginning.)


01
Jan 13

More Learning, Less Teaching

Here’s a really great clip of Richard Feynman explaining how his father used to translate abstract concepts as he explained the world to his son.

 

The way Feynman’s father shared concepts with his son reminds me of a brilliant thought my colleague Roshi Givechi shared with me once. We were discussing how to design a working session for something; I don’t really remember. As we discussed how to structure the time, she commented that most people love to learn, but hate being taught.

This conversation must have been 3 years ago, but that thought has stayed with me. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t love to learn. To be engaged and excited when you learn something is such powerful and optimistic place. But we can only find that place when things are made relatable and interesting to us.

We’re seeing huge bets being places in online learning, both causal and degree-based formats. In these new explorations, we often lose the human teachers but there’s still a lot of “teaching” going on. This space holds a lot of promise, especially since online learning hopes to cater to the many ways each of us learn. But this movement online is very much in its infancy, and this clip is a great reminder of the interactions that create a joyous learning experience.


12
Aug 12

Timing Decisions (and Playing Ball)

One of my colleagues at work recently shared a really nice metaphor around decision making that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. He noted that the timing of a decision is almost as important as the decisions you make. He likened the timing of a decision to swinging a bat in baseball – swing to early or late and you’ll sacrifice control of the ball (or worse, strike out altogether). But strike at the right time, and you’ll have more influence on how things play out.

I tend to hate sports/business metaphors, but I love this one. I also love the deeper implications of the relationship between the pitcher and batter. The pitcher creates the conditions for decision, and the batter decides when (and if) they will act. Sometimes, opting out of a decision altogether is powerful and important moment.

It can be easy to confuse decisions for progress. We’ll all nod our head at this sentiment, but we behave differently. After all, we’ve learned that decisions equal progress, so it’s easy to assume lack of decisions equal lack of process. This is so inbred that we feel obligated to make decisions when sometimes we should wait. This becomes even more difficult when working in teams, because delaying decisions can create angst for others.

In big decision moments, it’s important to create space for situations to unfold. It’s also important to create an agreement within the team that you’re waiting to make a decision (as opposed to afraid to decide.) By creating this space, you’ll learn about the intentions and motivations of others, and new options that weren’t apparent will emerge. 

So, when you’re grappling with decisions that involve people and many moving pieces, think about when you should decide as much as what you’re deciding on. The risk of waiting will often be rewarded by the serendipity of new options. 


08
Jul 12

Designing for the Echo Chamber

Ok, this is the piece I wanted to write when I started my last post. The idea of the echo chamber isn’t new, but I wanted to work through a few things to figure out how to start tackling it.

So the biggest challenge in designing against the echo chamber seems to be that this phenomena is singular and personal. I could read an article that is duplicative and reinforces my own views, but it might be completely expansive for my very best of friends.

Countering this type of phenomena probably isn’t done completely programatically. We could filter to get you closer to things you might like, but filtering for content you probably won’t like but might respect enough to consider another point of view is close to impossible. To counter the echo chamber, we each need to find a personal balance in the content we consume. We can’t force people to take a balanced view on things, but you could show them that they haven’t seen enough to consider themselves balanced. So, I’ve been wondering what sort of monitoring tools could be use to help us find a better balance.

Some Inspiration
MediaRDI – At The Center for Civic Media (in the MIT Media Lab), Matt Stampeck and Ethan Zuckerman recently constructed a provocation around a balanced media diet. The idea is that there is a meta-story that puts the content we read into a larger context. Only when we have some sort of content can we understand for ourselves how balanced we are.

Percolate – Percolate is a really great recommendation service created by Noah Brier. The service uses your Twitter followers to suggest which content it thinks you will enjoy. It’s a very smart service, instead of just looking for the most linked content and serving it back to you, it has some analysis to understand what your network means to you. They’ve moved the marker on recommendation, (because the I’ve probably already seen the most linked content anyway). So by striving to put the network in context, the content created by your network gains more context. (If you haven’t, check out the service…the daily recommendation email is really amazing….and I never say that about computer generated email, trust me.)

Organizing Framework
Ok, so let’s put this echo chamber in some sort of context. It seems to generally occur when you’re reading too much of the same content from the same sources/network. Changing either of those aspects could help you along, finding content through new sources or possibly seeing content from a new network. (Pardon the 2X2, but I think it works.)

EchoChamber

To understand where your content is coming from, we could start with your social network. Through your Facebook/Twitter stream we could know if content has been passed around your network. We could also even start to see a similarity among sources of content and the networks that consumer them. Media has become so fractionated, this may lend to this type of analysis; the fractions will probably cluster.

To understand the type of content people consume, you would probably operate through a browser plug-in. It would probably feel a little like the StumbleUpon plug-in, which (I think) keeps track of where you’ve been so it won’t send you to a similar destination. A little big brother-ish, but you could design it to be pretty transparent and not so creepy.

So, if we know the dynamics of your network and we know the content you consume, we can probably start to push into new content areas. We wouldn’t be able to know exactly the content, but we could know if it’s new for you (out of network) and if it’s resonating (high view count in other networks.)

If we wanted to ouch things further, through some pretty serious network analysis, you could start to understand content areas that are highly contested (ex. Arab Spring) because of the diversity of network sources that tackle 

So, if you could pull this off, you might interact with the user in a couple of ways…

Personal balance indicator
Some sort of indicator that there is some sort of polarizing content outside of their network. They’re reading one thing, but people outside of their network are reading very different sources. (This gets toward the Kony problem from the first post.) I played with a lot of clever icons, but for this purpose I just stuck with the smiley face; seems universal enough. If you’re viewing something where you’re balanced, either because you’ve read enough, or there is isn’t content outside your network, you get a smiley. If you’re reading a more polarized topic, you’ll get a frown and some suggestions of other content that (together with what you’ve read) will help you begin to balance your “media diet”.

Balanced

 Unbalanced

Topic map
Imagine a user seeing that they haven’t seen a balanced set of content. They could also click through the “frown” to see a more holistic organization of content. 

Article map

There’s probably a more elegant way to get to here, this was just a thought experiment. It doesn’t seem like there’s much money in balancing content on the web, but it seems important for who we will become based on the content we consume.

It’s interesting that you almost have to build a representation of the universe to draw directions to get elsewhere. This is the part that feels a little wrong to me, understanding the ever-growing whole seems impossible & un-weblike. 

If you have other ideas, please add them in comments. 

Thanks for reading.