“finding compasses not maps” and “apply boring technology to interesting people you can get something new”

What is the difference between a map and a compass? he [Ade Oshineye] asked. His answer: people have too much faith in maps, which are, in the end, just someone else’s view of the world. Whereas a compass only gives you a rough direction and we don’t expect more of it than that.

The point? It’s the same with finding a successful model for … the future: getting the direction right is better than trying to find the perfect strategy with the false certainty of a map.

… Even bookshelves, he said, have evolved over years: boring technology may have the answer to your problem.

Google+ Hangouts, he said, is an example of boring technology – video chat – being used in a new way. …

Google+ has taught him that if you apply boring technology to interesting people you can get something new: “The hard part is coming up with the right metrics to see if you’re getting there.” – Charles Miller, Future media challenges are about finding compasses not maps (Emphasis mine)


  1. Re the maps:
    indeed, as Alfred Korzybski’s famous aphorism goes, “the map is not the territory” (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map-territory_relation). A map that is a precise representation of reality is useless; it is precisely what maps miss out or the way they abstract from reality that makes them useful but we need to understand these omissions and the models used in abstraction.

    It could also be argued that false-certainty in a compass can get you into trouble. So… while I think Oshineye is right about about the fallacy of the perfect strategy and about the seductive power of maps I think the real problem is that, whenever we either try to map out or find our way among media challenges (etc), the territory is changing because we a dealing with a complex social environment in which the meaning of things emerge from the system and its historical path. The technology may be boring (not new?); its the social practices that evolve around it that make it interesting.

    Cheers, Adam

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