Back in 2005, I read Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice, a life-changing book*. I think of Schwartz’s maximizers and satisficers whenever I’m paralyzed by many choices in, say, the toothpaste aisle of Target.
But what if you’re not in the toothpaste aisle of Target? What if you’re on Amazon.com and can choose from millions of book? Or you’re facing a feed reader with thousands of unread items? Assuming that funds and time are finite, how do you choose?
It’s no longer a matter of choosing the first option that meets your needs. We need to pre-screen and remove the cognitive load of irrelevant options altogether, either through a human curator or an algorithm.
When I tell people about our community supported agriculture (CSA) membership, the first question is usually, “is pre-paying for a season of farm food cheaper than buying it at the store?”
Frankly, I have no idea. This is the wrong question. We’re paying first and foremost to support local farmers, but we’re also paying the good folks of Greensgrow (our local urban farm) to build relationships with growers and choose the week’s produce. We pay them to make sure each delivery has leafy greens, veggies, fruit, and cheese. In other words, we pay them to curate our food, and it’s a great investment.
*Barry Schwartz recently signed my copy of the book—so cool!