My name is Spencer Lazar. I am a venture capitalist at General Catalyst. I grew up with the internet, spend my life thinking about how it can make our lives better, and work with world-class entrepreneurs to affect that chanage. NYC is my home. This is my blog.

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Finding Equilibrium in The Flow

It has many names.  The stream.  The pulse.  The loop.  I call it "the flow."  

The flow is not just a feed of information - akin to those hosted by Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare or even legacy RSS readers. It is a personalized constellation of news, narrative, gossip, and opinion surrounding the issues that interest us most.  All forms of available media have coefficient in the equation that defines it; email, television, newspapers, magazines, books, phone conversations, dinner table banter and water cooler chats. The momentum of the Flow builds because no matter one's professional, personal, or demographic disposition, there is always a benefit to sitting on the right side of asymmetric information.  Being "in the Flow" is being in the know.  

The Flow is a dynamic concept.  Its pace is determined by the amount of underlying change and corresponding coverage in world events.  Given the historical prohibitive costs of information production, distribution, and consumption - the Flow started off as a drip.  Today, other than by transporting oneself into an episode of Mad Men, it is hard to imagine a time when it was appropriate to digest media by the week - let alone hold our breath for the nightly news.  Staying in the flow used to be a thing of leisure.  But, with 2 billion more information producers (people alone) on the planet than existed just 20 years ago and the advances in technology affording new levels of interconnectedness, the Flow has reached the level of class 5 rapids. Keeping up takes work.

So what is the right balance?  How many people can we actively "follow"; "friends" can we have; subscriptions can we maintain; or channels can we watch?  How many tributaries can we allow to connect to the Flow before it becomes unmanageable?  How much time should we be spending curating, monitoring, and building such information architectures before the very energy required to hold our heads above water is not enough? How do you know when the benefits of information consumption no longer exceed its costs?  

Over time, some of the answer will come from next generation aggregation & curation engines such as the HuffingtonPost and BuzzFeed.  Some of the answer will also come from technology.  We will all go by the way of the Wall Street trader, whose proprietary platforms make trades without the need for human intervention - actively and independently learning from its mistakes.  Put differently, technology will allow us to attain the benefits of the Flow without having to process each piece of data on our own (i.e. bill pay, home energy monitoring, health upkeep, and more).   But, as the optimal level of human information consumption is a deeply personal decision, some elements of equilibrium will for the foreseeable future be determined by the individual.  

I would be keen to understand how you manage your flow.

This post was deliberately focused on the notion of information consumption.  This conversation is complemented & complicated by the introduction of questions as to the appropriate amount of information production for the individual.  These are extremely important interaction variables, which I will attempt to address in a future post.

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