Building Worlds Harry Potter-Style

I hope you’ll excuse my absence the last few days. I’ve been madly devouring Harry Potter since last Thursday (I’m now on book 4). And one of the things that’s stuck out is Rowling’s ability to build this wholly believable world. I’m left wishing I wasn’t such a muggle.

What Rowling does so well and with seeming ease, I think we all wish we could do and try to do in one way or another. We attempt to build worlds on a regular basis. Whether it’s within the latest social app like Twitter or Facebook, we’re building a community that reflects our perception of what we see and what we hope to be true. We create our own circle of friends and enemies, we fashion our own definitions of reward and punishment. In all, we’re seeking after a world that fits us.

And until we find a world that fits us, we’re a bit uncomfortable and fight the urge to tug at the too-tight, invisible collar. What’s even more intriguing are people’s attempts to convince us that if the collar’s too tight for them, it must be too tight for us too. Recent posts (Allen Stern, Robert Scoble, Fred, Rex Hammock) about Jason Calacanis declaring “Facebook bankruptcy” reminds me a bit of this mindset. Who is Mr. Calacanis really trying to convince? Himself or you? Who’s world does his position serve? Yours or his?

I’m far from convinced that Facebook will fit in my world. I’m still testing the waters. However, Facebook not meeting my needs or fitting in my world doesn’t lead to the ultimate conclusion that Facebook doesn’t fit in anyone else’s world. Taking potshots at it serves little purpose if I’m not willing to pose a solution. Mr. Calacanis has opted out of Facebook, and in some ways, the discussion (I’m still perplexed by his “no comments” position). Do I have any takers that in spite of opting out it won’t be the last time he posts on the subject of Facebook?

I’ve watched post after post fly around, particularly during the last year, about the next greatest thing and how if you aren’t already participating, you’re behind. Then, at a similar rate of speed, the opposite occurs, and once-vocal promoters have tossed aside what was great for the next greatest thing. The cycle creates opportunities for individual discovery because you may find that something that’s no longer “in” fits your world just fine.

I’m not a proponent of staying stuck in the past out of fear of the future. I am a proponent of sticking with something if it adds to your world. At some point, genius developers will come up with replacements for Twitter and all the other social apps floating around. The only question you have to ask yourself isn’t, “What would Jason do?” but rather, “Does this help me build my world?”



3 Responses to “Building Worlds Harry Potter-Style”

  1. August 1, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you for writing what I’ve been trying to find the right words for to describe a “niche” web app I’ve start using. Some are bashing it. Some are using 100% of it. I am using perhaps 10-15% of it and it has totally rocked *my* world and I’m happy where I am. Now to go back to my world where I write one as intriguing as Rowling’s or Pullman’s or many many others I enjoy.

  2. 2 Britt
    August 1, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you, even if only a little bit. There’s so much that just doesn’t work.

    For all the talk about customizing our experience, we still fight the same herd mentalities. I sometimes feel like there’s an “in” group who drive so much of the conversation that it can be difficult in the beginning to discern the validity of the commentary, especially when there’s flip-flopping down the road.

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July 2007
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