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New at the Kōan of Silence: The Promise and Price of Living at the Mall.

A few years back, the occasion of Jerry Fawell’s death caused me to remember the one time in my life I’ve been handcuffed (by mall cops) in an essay called How I Got Arrested for Loving a Gay Man. At the conclusion of the essay, I wrote the following:

It turns out that at the same time I was having my little adventure in Eugene there were some interesting court cases trying to figure out what can and can’t get you kicked out of a mall. Stealing will definitely get you kicked out. Wearing a “Dick Cheney is a War Criminal” t-shirt might get you kicked out in some places (probably not Eugene), but you’d probably have a case if you decided sue.

Politely disrupting someone’s mall-sanctioned policitical activities? Well I don’t know if that ever got settled. Mostly what happened is malls stopped giving anyone permission to anyone to do anything in the mall except spend money. There’s a lesson in that, or at least I think there is, even if I don’t know quite what it is.

Three years later, I feel that the meaning of that lesson has become more clear:

Peggy and I were at IKEA today. Both of us really like IKEA. But the more time you spend shopping there, the more you realized the #1 design consideration for *everything* IKEA sells is how much space it takes up in storage and transit. Everything else flows from this consideration, and as wide a variety of stylish, good value proposition goods as you can purchase at IKEA, every last one of them is shape by this one overriding consideration.

That’s sort of how I feel about the internet. Like IKEA, there’s a lot of stuff about it that’s a good value proposition, but there’s also this one overriding design consideration that everything else has to bend to. Yes, search is part it, but it’s just one part of it. And like when I’m shopping at IKEA, when I’m socializing, being “productive” and generally living my life on the internet, I’m (more or less at various times) aware of the way things are bent to the needs of the internet.

The rest over at the Kōan of Silence. Of course the fact that I have moved my writing to a blog specifically design to be Google SafeSearch friendly is part of how we bend who we are, what we do, and what believe to the new digital reality. I hope you’ll take the trouble to click the below link, read the rest, and if you’re moved, perhaps leave a comment about how you’ve changed they way you do things to accommodate the internet.

The Promise and the Price of Living at the Mall

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