Home A Theory of Synchronicity for the Web

A Theory of Synchronicity for the Web

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
. 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
. 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
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
. When used to describe synchronicity, it’s all about the “flow of
life”. For example, this

“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

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
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
, 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
, Sam
, Anil Dash and Rebecca
. 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…

Stay Tuned!

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

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