Don't Scale

Corn Fields Cover The Universe, Unicorns Cover The Mind

Another Sunday, Another Naive Weekly - Observations From The Internet Wilderness.

In the late summer of 2014 I created a handful of fictive Internet people. It was a short experiment in how easy it was to create fake online personas. Really easy it turned out. I used stock photos for their profile pictures and used scripts to make them automatically publish content on different buzzword-heavy topics.

The fictive personas came in handy one day when I wanted to test an idea that has been growing inside me.

At the time I was living in Brussels. It was the fourth foreign city I had relocated to in five years, so I very much new the drill and thrill of establishing myself in a new town. I’d crash a few events, hit people up for coffee and contrary to the common advise I ignored the local languages.

One coherent problem I had when relocating was to discover the interesting events I’d attend to start making friends. Granted it was easy to find the Hollywood movie premiere because they had plastered movie posters up everywhere. It was also no issue discovering the Facebook ads promoted TEDx conference. But the student driven movie club, the pop-up jazz concert and the grass-root bookclub got - and still gets - lost in the noise from paid advertising and behind closed feeds of friends.

When you are back home it is not a problem when the interesting activities are discovered in friends’ feeds, because you have plenty of friends in the given location. However, when you are new to a city you quickly only see the skyscrapers. Meanwhile the small intimate activities are hidden in the maze of Internet side-streets. At least that was my assumption and therefore I launched The Hive Brussels in September 2014.

One afternoon I browsed the Internet for things going on the upcoming week in Brussels and gathered the most intriguing activities in a single email newsletter. I didn’t want people to think that it was only me suggesting the activities, so for each activity I’d link to a person making it look like they had submitted it. Here the fictive personas came in handy.

Over the next four months I continued sending the weekly newsletters and the subscriber list grow to just short of 1,000 people. Some 50 people started to submit activities and when I left Brussels, a subscriber-turned-friend continued the project for another eight months until his motivation settled with the signing of a new employment contract.

And then the project stopped.

I was in my mid-twenties, working full-time and despite the project being very meaningful to many people, I did not devote time and energy to find a way for it to continue. My time was limited, but the honest reason why I didn’t spend the energy required to find a way for it to continue was because I didn’t see how I could scale the project.

Last week I wrote that I hope for this decade to be cycles over scale. And when I think back on The Hive Brussels, I might add: people over millions. Not everything we do needs or should grow into multi-million startups. I did not understand that as clearly back in 2014.

Internet Black Hole

  • David’s Disposable
    David Dobrik made a large following on Vine back in the days. He managed to translate that success into being one of the leading creators, very popular among teens with a massive following across YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snap and TikTok. A few weeks ago he launched a camera app that has already gained more than a million downloads. The catch? You can only see the photos you take 9AM the next morning.

  • The Man Who Reads 1,000 Articles a Day
    For a long time I’ve loved receiving The Browser, a newsletter sharing five articles worth reading. There a plenty of newsletters offering to curate the best of the Internet, but not a single one beats The Browser when it comes to providing unexpected stories I didn’t know I wanted to read. Therefore I was less surprised when it turned out that the man behind reads 1,000 articles a day.

  • The Strange Case of Paul Zimmer, The Influencer Who Came Back As a Different Person
    Late December the person to the left on the photo above announced that he’d give up his TikTok account with millions of followers to the person to the right. Apparently he had grown too tired of being a social media influencer. The only problem? It appears it is the same person.

  • Disruption for Thee, But Not for Me
    I really enjoyed reading this post by Cory Doctorow where he takes a very balanced stance at disruption. These day’s we (myself included) seem exhausted by disruption, but we should not forget that the systems that has been disrupted over the past decades of startup hype were not perfect in the first place. What Cory further adds is that today regulation seems to make it hard for new, more meaningfully driven companies to disrupt the disrupters.

Roadside Flower

Continue to scroll down the ocean and discover incredible fish and creatures floating around in the deep sea.

Book Club

  • Haruki Murakami - Hear the Wind Sing
    I’m still catching up on Haruki. This week I had the pleasure of reading his first novel in what a young man reflects on his past girlfriends and unfolds the relationship to his friend The Rat, a character who wants to write stories for the cicadas and frogs and spiders, and the summer grasses and the wind.

Readers’ Corner

Nikolaj shared an article about a man living without a mobile phone guessing it would be right up my alley. It was. And I think it will be right up your alley too.

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly - Observations From The Internet Wilderness.

As always thanks to Ana for photos and support. I’d not have not have been able send today’s newsletter without her curry taking me through the hangovers.

Last week this newsletter was sent to 279 subscribers, among whom (now!) 12 are kind enough to chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: Nikolaj, Antal, SørenDriesMikkelTina, Aydo, Lukas, Hans, Csongor, Ida Marie & Angela!

<3

Kristoffer

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