What's Next, in 599 Words

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Inman Connect New York | January 29 - February 1, 2019

I’ve heard a plea (and not from the gracious hosts at Inman who generously allow me to blather on and on about all sorts of stuff here) to keep everything short because people are busy and have short attention spans and not enough time to think or expand or grow.

Perhaps people are incredibly busy. They must be busy because there’s so much more to be busy about now than there was at some other time before all of this digital stuff happened.

Maybe it’s just that ideas are more clever now and understanding our world no longer requires nuance or elaboration. Clean lines and efficient information have finally taken hold.

Scrap Milton, it’s Basho from now on.

Maybe it’s true that if your philosophy or method can’t fit on a bumper sticker it’s just too hard for people.

People like easy. And they should have easy no matter what. Sort of like ice cream. I like ice cream whenever I can have it. Why eat broccoli when you can have ice cream, I say.

Grab your ice cream cone and let’s talk about what’s next. By “next” I don’t mean “Next” as in the website where this is published. That’s up to Katie and Chris and the whole Inman crew.

I mean “next” in terms of time, like what happens after what is happening right now.

I suppose I mean: What happens after everyone has had their fill of ice cream and short pithy articles?

When that day comes, what will things look like? What will intellectual rigor look like? What will curiosity look like? What will our ability to meaningfully engage others look like? Or feel like?

Eventually that day will come. The day when short is no longer enough. This is true just as Friendster led to MySpace. Will we need our ideas even shorter? Will we want them longer?

Will we devote more time to thought and contemplation? Will we have even less time than we have now, living in a state of constant frenetic activity?

Less navel gazing: what about customers? Will they want more? Will they want less? What will exceptional service look like at the pace and tempo that will come once we’ve moved on from short shorts and don’t-make-me-think?

Is our devotion to the speed and efficiency of everything helpful? Was it helpful in 2006? Is our quickness adding to life?

Will customers be happy with the outcomes built into the level of dependence inherent in the world of the short, in the world of the not-thinking?

And that’s just ideas and thinking and the transmission of ideas and thinking. What about our structures? What about our infrastructure? What’s next for them?

The developments being built today (or maybe sort of stalled and half-built, depending on where you are), what’s next for them? Their first life being a dwelling. What will their next life be? Will they last? Will we depend on their disposableness for economic growth? Are we planning obsolescence here? If so, whose?

“It is said that what is called “the spirit of an age” is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world’s coming to an end. For this reason, although one would like to change today’s world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation.”

Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagekura
(the best way to experience the Hagekura, oddly enough, may be by watching Jarmusch’s movie “Ghost Dog”)