Of Friction and Family

21 12 2006

I haven’t etched out the time for a blog post for a while. With holiday travel upon me, it’s time for (just a bit) more reflection.

We’ve been watching with rapt attention on TechCrunch on two relevant posts here and here to iLetYou. I’ve only posted a short comment regarding iLetYou and free market economies on the former post. On the latter, the debate between two giants of DVD rental has taken up steam. In reality, the vision of iLetYou is disparate from this discussion – except that we pay attention because we care to improve on what’s bringing about such discussion, both positive and negative, with our community.

Friction is an odd word. It represents everything that holds us back. It represents any setbacks in design and process that hold back a user/person/customer from doing what they intend to do. And yet it’s a necessary and unavoidable part of the universe.

Those that live in a free market economy have the time and money to hypothesize about free market economies and how to best improve the universe with their virtual economies. Certainly, that’s what we’re trying to do with iLetYou.

And we apply different economic terms to effectively what can be related back to forms of economic friction: free market economy, efficient markets, liquidity, open markets, closed markets and so on and so and so forth.

However, a frictionless world is the perfect ideal world. Every time I’m put on hold, stuck waiting at the airport or unnecessarily had my time wasted – I wish friction away for good.

On family, I watch as it becomes apparent that much of Silicon Valley, the whole of California and entire high tech culture is unaware of the amount of friction that technology places in front of people. The question is often whether the usefulness or coolness is even worth it with all the friction that is required to enable it.

Family conflicts are rife with friction – I’ve already asked myself, “why do you have to make this so hard?” Personal conflicts seem to have this inherent characteristic of manufactured friction: the equivalent of rubbing your hands together to keep warm.

Friction will not go away. And to a very large extent, we enjoy the friction of our lives because it makes them interesting (and makes for good television). And without friction, we fly around uncontrollably.

So I salute those that try to remove friction from lives: humanitarians, economists, philanthropists, regular people and techies alike. It’s a noble goal that I can appreciate from everyone.

Happy holidays!