When it’s too much…

Paul Budnitz, a designer toy maker, has taken on the ‘social’ of social media and created something perhaps more closely resembles what ‘social’ should mean. Enter Ello. I can’t wait to see where this goes.

What is the motivation for such an ambitious endeavor? Simple. Declutter. And not just the interface, but the whole concept of information.

Every once in a while, I have to take a day off from the unmitigated volume of information coming across my computer every day. Recently, I took an entire week off of Facebook and while I missed interacting with some people, I found that avoiding the force-fed ads and industry related ‘Suggestions’ actually fueled my creativity. You see, when I wasn’t trying to assimilate others’ ideas, I had more brain waves to work on my own. Too much of anything is destructive. We become so inundated with external stimuli that we simply can’t freely associate and touch the new ideas that slip in and out of the spaces in our heads.

Smith, the interviewer and author of a BetaBeat piece on Budnitz, asks:

 “When you started Budnitz Bicycles, you were becoming anxious about clutter, stuff, and noise. Does that anxiety persist?”

Budnitz answers:

“Yes. I read a statistic somewhere that the amount of data now created worldwide in a week is greater than the total output of the entire human race before 1980. Soon it’ll be in a day.

The same can be said for the production and consumption of physical objects. Manufacturing is so inexpensive now, you can buy a lot of cheap crap for hardly any money. Clutter management is becoming the next great challenge of our age.”

I can remember when I began working in the IT business years ago, sitting around a table discussing how the ability to network computers and share email would decrease the amount of paper produced all over the world. We had a big laugh about it at the time, because our clients were asking us to write ever more comprehensive statistical reports. The stacks on their desks just kept getting bigger.

I have found that shielding myself from information overload has freed me to think, but in a world that is increasingly encroaching on our psyches, shielding requires unplugging entirely. Understanding the need to disconnect takes the mystery out of the drug or alcohol induced, altered states for which artists and musicians have historically been known. Sometimes the demons are simply too loud.

People who are compelled to create exist in the spaces in between. Too many spaces and next we might be found wrapped in a blanket in a room whose only light source is aimed at our favorite, tattered book, clutched tightly in our hands.

But sometimes, we just simplify things for ourselves and others, and in doing so, slow the world down long enough to expose the possibilities.

Thanks Mr. Budnitz. Can’t wait to see how it goes.