Question 77 of 365: How can we make the new seem normal?

Question 77 of 365: How can we make the new seem normal?

Very few objects are special to me. They exist in my life because they are of use, but they are replaceable in a huge way. Even my cross pen, the kind that I have had for over 10 years in my right pocket, get’s used to open boxes, pick things out of window sills and kill spiders (you wouldn’t think it would work, but it is quite effective once they are in a corner). It is another tool, utilitarian in nature, even if it does have sentimental value to me. Even if I love it because my wife gave it to me, it is still just a pen.

And that is all normal. It is normal that I am not overly attached to my shoes or my movies or my phone. While I would probably care if they were gone, they are the everyday stuff that my life is filled with. I encounter them each day and I don’t think anything of it. I do not contemplate their existence because they are a reliable part of my own. They will be there when I need them, and that is reassuring.

Yet, all of my new stuff isn’t that yet. New gadgets that I buy aren’t normal yet. New software that I use, isn’t normal yet. New ideas, too. All of these things aren’t utilitarian in their existence for me; they are novel and unique in my everyday life.

And yet, new is pretty much all that I want other people to do.

I introduce them to new software, new gadgets and new ideas on a regular basis. I gather new information and talk about new tools daily. None of this is normal. It is not ordinary. It is not useful in the way that my pen is. It cannot be relied on for everything. It is just too new.

Things that have crossed over from new to normal for a good portion of the population:

Things that are just new:

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with New. What I am saying, is that no one using the things I have labeled in the latter category to skill spiders. The things in the New category must be thought about during every use. The things in the Normal category are just a fact of life.

So, how do we take things from the non-spider-killing category, and get them to exist within the spider-killing-category?

By framing them that way of course. In order for FourSquare to become a household name, it must start telling stories of how to kill spiders. It must be framed by images, video and experience that show it to be one of the places that has such a utilitarian use that it seems unfathomable that it didn’t previously exist. Google has attained this status. We can’t imagine not being able to search the world’s information. It kills our spiders on a regular basis.

So it must be with Open Spokes. It must become the way that we ask our questions of our family members and friends. Not as a poll or a quick form, but rather it must be the way in which we think to send out a request for feedback on an idea. It must become the way in which people record their thoughts online and develop them over time. And at the risk of restating the obvious, it must kill people’s spiders. It must squish all of the doubt out of a decision and allow people to take a sure-footed step into the unknown.

If people can send an e-vite without thinking or do a google search on the fly, they should be able to ask an Open Spokes question with that cerebral instinct.

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  1. I wonder if the new-to-normal transition doesn't owe its likelihood as much to availability as it does to usefulness.
    For a while, when I started using Flock as my browser, the default search engine was Yahoo. For almost a month, I'd type my query into the field and find myself at the Yahoo results page. It was a foreign land with just enough difference for me to get frustrated by each search. Eventually, I'd type “” into the address bar and begin again.
    For that month, yahoo became my normal because it was there. I get that google was only a click away, but it wasn't there. This little piece of market penetration has been key for me. The new becomes the norm when it's closer than within reach.
    I've had a digital camera for years, but didn't really use it until I named a pocket in my bookbag as its home. I've had a flickr account for years as well, but I didn't use it well until my eye-fi card.
    The commercial I saw for Bing tonight was groovy and made me chuckle, but I'm not going there. It's too far.
    Google first led me to answers. Then, it let me keep my stuff on its page for when I wasn't looking for answers. Then it let me keep my messages on its page when people were sending me non-searchable answers. And so on and so forth.
    What happened after that was interesting. After it gave me a place to do all my normal stuff, google gave me new stuff to do. The normal gave me new.
    Open Spokes is using the normal of conversations to move to a new way of answering and archiving and connecting.

  2. Nice.

    I like how you have flipped the theory on its head. I recognize now that I
    don't immediately jump to new, even with getting “new things.” TV has pretty
    much always been normal for me, and yet that is exactly why I understand
    things like Flip Cameras.

    The normal begets the new and yet the new transitions into normal. It is
    earthquakes and erosion. Volcanoes and lava flows.

    We need what is normal to connect us with what is new, otherwise new is just
    kind of lame.

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