We live in a world where information is no longer scarce. In fact, it's the opposite. We're bombarded with information day in and day out. I'd argue what's become scarce is applying the information in helpful ways. Putting that information into practice rather than endlessly consuming soo much information that we no longer have time for any action. For example, there are 1000s of people dispensing suggestions for how to have more meaningful work or how to live a more fulfilling life. But what does that information matter unless it's put into action? This challenge was one of my core motivations in founding Tools for Humanity to create digital tools based on proven ideas. The ideas aren't novel. The technology probably even doesn't need to be novel. What's novel is using technology to bring those ideas to life, making them come alive in people's lives. Helping people to try new practices, form helpful habits, and have a positive impact on one's work and life is what's novel.
When reading Range today, I came across this story from Nintendo's history:
"With that, and Drive Game, in mind, Yokoi embarked on an approach he called “lateral thinking with withered technology.” Lateral thinking is a term coined in the 1960s for the reimagining of information in new contexts, including the drawing together of seemingly disparate concepts or domains that can give old ideas new uses. By “withered technology,” Yokoi meant tech that was old enough to be extremely well understood and easily available, so it didn’t require a specialist’s knowledge. The heart of his philosophy was putting cheap, simple technology to use in ways no one else considered." (David Epstein, Range)
What's scarce today is taking the wise information and experiences of the past and bringing them to life. I love this reminder that Nintendo's success was based on the combination of existing ideas and existing technology to make something novel and helpful. Sure there's still opportunity for new ideas as well. But how much impact could we have by just bringing existing helpful information to life using practical means instead of consuming yet another new idea?