Overcoming People Overload: Ideas as Waypoints

It’s a familiar refrain: We’re drowning these days. We’re suffering from information overload. We strive for inbox zero. We seek to avoid (cue foreboding soundtrack) email bankruptcy. Who knew that progress came with an asterisk? Access to all this stuff didn’t lead to knowledge nirvana but to anxiety and a sense of failure. Go figure.

In response, the technologies that got us into this mess in the first place are trying to make right. Google introduced priority inbox last week. Amazon tries to pluck out the stuff we really want from its millions of products. Netflix sniffs out what movies it thinks we’re going to like by paying attention to our behavior. These are all good things. We can use all the help we can get to help us get to the stuff that matters most to us. But there’s more than stuff at stake. We’re not only suffering from information overload. We’re suffering from people overload.

Whereas in the past, we could maintain five, jobs_woz ten maybe fifteen significant relationships with other people, we’re now faced with the ability to connect to anyone, anywhere. And so, the puzzle remains around the idea of connecting with others. How do I connect with people that share the same passion and curiosity for the things I care about? Taken further: how do I connect with others that can help me realize the vision and ideas that I want to make a reality? How does a Steve Jobs meet a Steve Wozniak today?

Connecting people in any sort of substantive way is a tricky proposition. Yes, you can ask users to fill out profile pages that beckon for your “likes” and “interests” but that only goes so far. The Holy Grail lies in the ability to connect on a different pivot point: the unrealized ideas of others. This is less about clutter and bankruptcy and more about the unrealized potential of collaboration.

When we sat down to think about our next release of Kindling, we found ourselves doing the usual “what features do we want in the next release?” session.  “Our competitors have this, we don’t.” “Our customers are clamoring for this feature that we don’t have…” and so on. As we shuffled and reshuffled requirements, we finally took a step back and realized ideas are nothing without the connective tissue – the people – that make them happen. They’re a waypoint that connect others that share a common passion and drive to take something from the back of a napkin to reality. With that backdrop, we wiped the slate clean and created a platform that makes it easier than ever to seek out and connect to ideas – and others – that matter to you. Kindling 2.0 has a wealth of new features, but its ability to learn and understand your behavior and connect you to the ideas that will matter to you is the standout.

Amidst all the alarms of information overload lies amazing opportunity. Whereas the possibility of connecting in the past was limited to physical proximity and your limited social connections, such limitations no longer exist today. Still, the risk of overload and dilution come with this shedding of limitations. We need tools that help us connect on an aspirational level. There are few things more galvanizing than an unrealized idea. Realization is rarely a one man job. We just need the right tool to connect the next Jobs with the next Wozniak – wherever they may be.