Time Dilation

This post by Seth Godin is fascinating to me. I’m going to drop the whole thing here:

You can read this post in six minutes. It took me more than an hour to write.

That extra editing and polish is a benefit to the reader.

You can read this post instead of 100 others, because people highlighted or shared or ranked or otherwise filtered the other things you might be reading. That curation created value as well.

The math here is compelling indeed: 1,000 would-be authors pitch books but only 30 get published. Each book takes a year to write but just six hours to read. And you didn’t read all thirty of them, just the one that had the best reviews… 10,000 hours of work by authors and editors to deliver six hours to you.

The time dilation of polish and curation is possible because of asynchronicity and the one-to-many nature of publishing ideas.

Asynchronous because you’re not doing it live, reading it as I write it.

And one-to-many because the work of a creator is multiplied across many readers.

A friend recently sent me a note via voice mail. It was 14 minutes long. Because he didn’t spend another ten or fifteen minutes editing it into a three-minute long email, he wasted a ton of my time. But the nature of 1:1 interaction meant that it was either his time or mine, even steven.

And listening to someone live, at an open mic nite or at a concert, promises wonderful surprise, but it also means that there’s bound to be a lot of dead time. Because no one is curating, and you have no selection advantage.

One of the surprising unsung benefits of the worldwide web and the organized sharing of information is time dilation. A benefit we constantly waste by seeking the more human habit of mindlessly taking what comes, in real-time instead.

The idea of time dilation and curating input and the important idea of curating output to others is a concept I’ve never heard before, but I understand completely.

August 17, 2021


Previous:Type the Alphabet
Next:The Pandemic Isn’t Over