The Watchmen Cometh
Wrestling with The Beast

The Natural Selection of Interesting

Natural selection of interesting

The Internet is like these binocular things at the top of tall buildings [the ascent of which remains the favourite tourist past time] - it brings distant point of interest within close range.

As Anthony points out in this lovely ebook, the Internet functions as a live attention market - it dynamically reallocates attention in real time, because the machine makes bringing things close easy and immediate, and finding things a function of fragments of behaviour.

Ants in colonies don't require any conscious top down organisation - local rules exist and individual behaviours leave pheremone trails that get reinforced if the behaviour is imitated, which leads to directional changes of the whole.

We leave links and tags, tweets and posts, instead of pheremones - and these guide the allocation of attention.

As Duncan Watts has pointed out, the structure of the network is as important as that which seeks attention, and the same thing that becomes an attention grabbing hit one day, may not the next.

So, rather than collapse the wave function of this dialectic on one side, let's remember rather it is the dynamic interplay of the two that makes things spread, that moves attention around the market.

And my brother, who knows about these things, has a great expression for how this happens: 

the natural selection of interesting

This is awesome because it contains both parts of the idea: natural selection of the interesting favours traits which make something interesting to the environment.

And, if you wanted, you could even think about ideas as evolving, being remixed [sexual reproduction is a recombinant process] and copied and so on, incorporating other elements, becoming more interesting, or dying out.

If you wanted.

Best not to get too wed to the mechanics of a metaphor but as the viral / spreadable discussion continues, it is important to remember that how you think about something does matter, because the metaphors we use can change how we approach things.

Words are where we live.