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On letting go and why less is more

Why Words Matter Newsletter May 2021


Last month, we looked at different ways to frame problems before trying to solve them. How identifying the right problem (and solution) is often a process of elimination: ruling out the wrong ones first. It got us wondering, how would things turn out if we were encouraged (and even incentivised) to remove, delete and archive?

We accept that people’s needs change yet often put up with information, features and even whole services that are no longer fit for purpose. Instead of acknowledging that something has run its course, our instinct to fix usually involves adding to what’s there. After all, we measure productivity by the addition of more, even when it’s just more clutter and noise.

So, what would it take for us to consider deletion, removal, closure? There’s something seemingly underwhelming and unheroic about the whole thing, isn’t there? (Or is that ego talking?)

Perhaps it’s time to question our attachment to the words we write, the things we create, and consider the cost that comes from putting them out into the world and leaving them there, moving onto the next thing.

Reassess the importance of tidying up, cutting down. Like a gardener taming the thicket, we could open up a space for intentional and considerate growth.

Kim Bellard

Describing the US healthcare system as a 'living archeological site', this article explores our preference for designing and building shiny new things when problem solving, and questions how things would be if we were incentivised to subtract.

99% Invisible podcast Transporting us back to the early days of the internet, this episode tells the story of the metropolises of GeoCities and what happened as the internet shifted up a gear. When Yahoo announced that they'd be wiping GeoCities from servers in 2009, a team of digital preservation enthusiasts made it their mission to archive the internet's digital heritage.

Gerry McGovern

Shedding light on the "monster that is web publishing", this article is a call to arms: it's time to hit pause. Innovation pushes us into creating more content, apps, microsites, chat bots - but at what cost?

Cassie Robinson, the Stewarding Loss project

Closing something down sounds easy in theory, but what would it take from a practical, organisational perspective? This essay reflects on the shifts in perspectives and resources that would come into play, and the emotional and practical preparation needed to bring something to a close.

The School of Life (video) Adding to things is simple. Taking time to assess and reflect requires time and space, but ‘keeping busy’ is somehow easier than hitting pause. In this short video The School of Life shows us life can get pretty messy too, and gives us some ideas for stripping away the noise and clutter before we have to pay the price of continuing the seemingly never-ending cycle of doing more.

That’s all for now! Did you find anything interesting you’d like to share or chat about? Just reply to this email and let us know!

Stay safe,

Nia and Adrián

Tidy Content

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