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One Size, Fits All

2015-03-14 in Uncategorized

In my previous post, I noted that “we are now so far removed from a “one-size fits-all” world, that the notion that anyone could find one answer to each and every question at one information resource seems absurdly naive.” In another post on one of my “personal” blogs, I wrote about some ideas quite related to this — in the first pace “responsibility”, and also about choice,… and ultimately about the ability to let go (see “Responsibility to Life“). I would like to elaborate on this last point here, because I only sort of tangentially touched on it there.

The reason why this topic is important to blogs and blogging is because we all aim for our blog to be the best it can be, for our writing to be insightful and inspiring, for our information and tips to be helpful, and so on.

In the post I linked to above, I mentioned a TED talk video in which Barry Schwartz covered the topic of choice. In that video, he mentions clothing that he used to enjoy a lot because it was basically “one-size, fits-all”… — such that there was not much difficulty with respect to choice. Online, choice is not so simple.

Many people visit one and the same website every time they choose to use the Internet. They might log in to Facebook or some other “social” website, or they might type all of their questions into the Google homepage search box. A simpleton might say “they have chosen a one-size, fits-all website” — and so they no longer are burdened by choices. The way I see it, they have actually primarily postponed their choice.

When a Google-searcher has a search box before them, they have to choose what to write into it.  They have the impression of choice (according to George Carlin, people in fact have no choice [“You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything.“]). People might type in “happy” or “sad” — but either way it is highly probable that Google will return a link to wikipedia.org plus a list of sites that Google makes money from through advertising. Compared to the situation described by Barry Schwartz in that video, this is far worse: People actually have little or no choice, and they will feel bad because they have the impression that they could have made a better choice.

Likewise, for people who use so-called “social” media, they feel as though there are many choices: They can press many buttons, they can “tag” things, there are many bells and whistles. When they become bored, then they feel they have made the wrong choices.

I want to suggest to you that when you aim to make your blog the best it can be, you should do that by being yourself. Do not feel as though you need to cater to some one-size fits-all mystery algorithm, because that will probably only get in the way of actually interacting with your audience. What is important is that you and your audience both know what it is that you can offer, and that your audience wants. If you agree on this, then you will have no difficulty interacting with your audience. For example: I enjoy following Drew Lepp’s blog, because so far I have been pleasantly surprised with every post she has made (and because I enjoy reading about webdesign tips, user experience and stuff like that — which are the main topics she writes about). I don’t need Google to find her blog — I just go directly to drewlepp.com.

Just like I learn a lot from Drew, I hope others also learn something from what I write. For example: I would advise anyone who wants others to learn about “X” to name their site “X” — because people would probably never think to type in a more-or-less random string when the are looking for something specific… and indeed: I will soon be launching a website about naming websites, online businesses, web-based projects, etc.

This is precisely the point where “letting go” and trusting intuition is so important. If you intuitively feel that someone is an expert, then trusting their judgement is (usually) a very smart thing to do. Barry Schwartz explained this very well in his TED talk video with his example of why it’s (usually) a good idea when patients trust doctors. The more you engage in such interactions, the better you will become at making the judgement regarding whether someone is trustworthy or not. As far as I know, there is no “one-size fits-all” algorithm for this, but one of the strongest and most reliable indicators I know of is whether the person or company in question is publishing information on their own website or not. Generally, when someone is publishing information on someone else‘s website, I find that information is rather untrustworthy. Perhaps I’ll write more about this in a future blog post. 🙂

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