Another Thing the Internet Can’t Do: On Curation and the Act of Discovery

Guest Post by Stuart Scadron-Wattles

I did not expect to give my eight-year-old grandson a stopwatch for Christmas, it just happened.

My wife Linda usually takes charge of the stocking stuffer gifts. With an extended family of eleven stretching over three generations and an agreed-on maximum of two gifts per stocking, it can be a daunting exercise. Linda has become a skilled surfer of the Internet, however, and between that and the nightly debriefing talks we were having, she was making progress.

Still, by the week before Christmas eight-year-old Joshua still did not have a gift, and neither did his two-year-old cousin Huxley.

So it was that we found ourselves at one of Seattle’s best toy and game stores on Sunday afternoon, braving the Christmas rush and wandering the aisles. Linda was seeking something for a two-year-old whose main enjoyment seemed to be throwing balls with increasing force and accuracy. I was dispatched to find “something that would get Josh off the couch and away from his Kindle.”

I was actually admiring an unusual ball (the store seemed to have thirty different kinds within three feet of each other) when I found the stopwatch: rugged, simple, it begged to be used to time races, bike rides, and sailboats. It was the antithesis of couch, and there was only one left on the shelf. I snatched it up triumphantly and brought it to Linda, who proclaimed it perfect, and asked me how I had thought of it.

Of course, I hadn’t been thinking about a stopwatch, I just happened across it. The area in which I was cruising for balls turned out to be devoted to outdoor toys.

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