In my previous post, Stasis and Synchronicity, I scratched the surface of something that's been bothering me recently. I've been sensing a degree of stasis in the blogging world, not to mention in my own life (and given what I wrote 12 days ago about weblogs being avatars, perhaps the two are intermingled). I finished my previous post with a rhyming play-on-words: I swapped 'MTV' for 'synchronicity' in the famous Dire Straits tune Money for Nothing. That came straight from my subconscious - and at the time I didn't fully know what it meant. Which for me is an invitation to explore...
Meaning and Interconnectedness
Synchronicity is a term made famous by the psychiatrist Carl Jung. He defined synchronicity as an "occurrence of a meaningful coincidence in time". Further, it as "an acausal connecting principle". Which is to say that a connection occurs through the sharing of a common meaning, not because one event caused the other. Jung went so far as to boldly state that "synchronicity could thus be added as a fourth principle to the triad of space, time, and causality".
Synchronicity has come to mean a variety of things. Laurence Boldt claims that synchronicity reflects the "underlying interconnectedness of all things within the Universe" [my emphasis]. An attractive theory for those of us addicted to Web culture! Stephen J. Davis states that synchronicity is "a very personal and subjective observation of this inter-connected universe of which we are but a small part". Another keyword that pops up in writings about synchronicity is "flow" - which of course reminds me of the Web's Information Flow. When used to describe synchronicity, it's all about the "flow of life". For example, this quote:
"When we are in the flow we experience more synchronous events, more pleasure and less pain. The flow of coincidences is our path to higher ground."
Synchronicity for Bloggers
What I was trying to express in my previous post was that sometimes we become too insular, too caught up in our routines. Specifically in the blogging world we get stuck inside the confines of our RSS Aggregators and we miss out on the synchronicity in other parts of the Web - and indeed in other forms of Art. Synchronicity to me means looking for meaningful coincidences in multimedia, literature, music, art, heck even television. So in this sense synchronicity means to go outside the blog world and explore other worlds. The greater your exposure to different ideas, the more likely you are to formulate new ideas.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Glassdog ;-)
In my travels on this topic, I came across this comment which nicely complements my point:
"If you look for it, you will start to see parallels in all kinds of things -- religion, physics, art, philosophy, psychology, music, etc.. There is a pattern to it all - the synchronicity. Once you notice the parallels, you might apply what you know about one thing to another and have a New Idea (or just enjoy the moment to a greater extent)."
And Serendipity too
There's a similar concept to synchronicity that has done the rounds of the blogosphere before: serendipity, or "making fortunate discoveries by accident". The day after I published my previous post, Stasis and Synchronicity, I came across some old weblog posts on the topic of serendipity. Anil Dash linked to an old Six Apart post from December 2002, which in turn linked back to a bunch of posts from early 2002 - from old school bloggers Jon Udell, Sam Ruby, Anil Dash and Rebecca Blood. Their theme was that blogging is "changing the way we look for information", in the words of Mena Trott. Rebecca Blood called it "pointing readers to things that they didn't know they wanted to see".
And it's hard to argue against that - I've learned a lot of things I'd never have discovered if it weren't for weblogs. By subscribing to smart people, like the ones on my blogroll, I make serendipitous discoveries nearly every day through the stories they write and the things they link to. But I need more. As I mentioned above, the blog world sometimes can be too insular and so stasis sets in. To get back the synchronicity, I want to explore outside...
I'm going to try and eat my own dogfood on this over the next month or so, by delving into things outside the blogging world. Particularly literature, which is my drug of choice. But also multimedia, music and other art forms. In fact, thinking about synchronicity so much over the last week has led me to come up with some themes that would be best explored in a novel. Hmmm, now there's an idea.