Resonance and Ideas

In one of my last posts, I briefly discussed the idea of cognitive surplus, which has been coined by Clay Shirky. Cognitive Surplus is the idea that we are unleashing more and more of our collective abilities as we choose to do different things with our time. The classic example is Wikipedia, which has been created from upwards of 100M hours of human effort.

Time is currently still a finite resource. What people chose to do with their time is always an interesting decision. Increasingly, we’re seeing that people want to do something that matters, for themselves and their community. From this desire, we are seeing more and more slow projects emerge – people choosing to do amazing and interesting things, because they really want to do them.

But how do you chose a project to work on? How do you decide what you’re going to plough your most precious resource, time, into? There are lots of great ideas out there – how do you judge which one you will be able to make happen?

To me, choosing something to work on is largely based on the resonance I feel for the idea.

“In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate with larger amplitude at some frequencies than at others.” Wikipedia.


I think this definition is beautiful, because it describes the extra energy created when you align yourself with an existing energy pulse. You know this feeling. It’s like there is this intuitive tuning fork inside you that knows whether you will actually make something happen rather than just let an idea fizzle out. You can see how you would make the idea happen. You know who to speak to first. You can feel the first conversation or the first sale. It’s easy. And these projects are often the ones that happen with the best results and the greatest satisfaction. This is a really interesting topic to me, which I’m looking forward to discussing more this weekend.

This weekend, I’ll be at the Social Innovation Bar Camp Sydney (@sibsyd) and am going to run a session discussing this idea of slow projects. @sibsyd is something I’m really looking forward to as it promises to provide a place for a number of ideas, thoughts and people to come together and amplify each others intentions. If you want to come along, you can register for free here:

4 thoughts on “Resonance and Ideas

  1. Thanks Gaurav – i’ll try to ensure someone films it. I’m not sure if I’ll prepare slides yet, or just walk through some stuff like we did at Trampoline 3 and the Wisdom 2.0 chat.

    I’ll post something to the blog next week about the session, anyways.


  2. Love it Steve, nice post. I totally identify with the ‘resonance’ concept – unfortunately for me I often feel that for heaps of different types of projects.

    For me sometimes it has to be far more calculated. The question I often ask myself is “what are the things/projects I can be involved in that – through my involvement – can achieve the most”

    After making that calculation I often feel that that’s when I’ll start getting more excited, as I’ll be excited by the potential for impact.

  3. Nice Nick – thanks for the comment.

    It’s a tough one isn’t – there is so much great work going on at the moment that it’s very easy to find projects which provide a certain resonance. But I love your statement that you then sit back, and consider which ones will achieve the most. Very nice.

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