Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Action-Reaction

Newton's laws of motion say, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

A Wired magazine article called “Snacklash” explains that in a world of bite-sized entertainment from YouTube, 50-hour-long dramas like The Sopranos, Lost, or 24 are more popular than ever.

Chris Anderson remembers, “Every abundance creates a new scarcity.”

Every time a curmudgeon complains about how things are changing, remember that change leaves room for its opposite reaction, too.

Let's think of some examples, shall we?

ACTION:
More and more and more music to choose from.
REACTION:
More need for tastemakers to tell us what's good.
ACTION:
Less venues for musicians to play.
REACTION:
House concerts.
ACTION:
Everybody getting too much email.
REACTION:
Increasing effectiveness of using anything-but-email to reach people. (Phone, SMS, snail mail, Facebook message.)
ACTION:
The push to make recorded music free.
REACTION:
Reaching people who are happy to spend money to show their dedication to an artist. (One of CD Baby's top-sellers costs $150. Many of david m. bailey's fans buy all of his albums at once, at a cost of $233.)
ACTION:
Customized entertainment online, where you only see/hear what you want to see/hear. (Pandora, Last.fm, etc.)
REACTION:
The luxury of someone else choosing your entertainment, based on what they think you need to see/hear. (It's healthy to hear other points of view.)
ACTION:
Social network, where hundreds of people you've never met are called “friends”.
REACTION:
Anti-social network, a secret site where you can't see who else is on there unless you've privately communicated a shared password. Then your “friends” can be your real friends, and you can have a better (private) conversation. (No this doesn't exist yet, but that's part of the fun of this action-reaction thing : using it to imagine what should exist.)

Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, said (via the Wikinomics blog), “If you are looking for a career where your services will be in high demand, you should find something where you provide a scarce, complementary service to something that is getting ubiquitous and cheap. So what’s getting ubiquitous and cheap? And what is complementary to that?”

I have the feeling this little brainstorm just barely scratched the surface, so please leave a reply here with some of your thoughts or examples on this action-reaction subject.