Since the advent of web 2.0 and social media, the most unexpected outcome for me has been the appearance and unstoppable growth of previously-described small interest groups. From autism to the open archives to historians of the London Underground to knitters, these communities have found a way to connect and grow.
It’s very easy to take it all for granted, and I did for a long time. (I also didn’t know about podcasts or twitter…) I think there are two reactions to the rapid changes; embracing on some level and being completely overloaded. The concept of information overload has been well documented, but is information overload also contributing to the growth in these small interest communities?
It’s easy to see how the internet is overtly contributing to the latest craft revival in such sites as Ravelry and Etsy, but is the overload being manifested in the very act of crafting as a throwback to an earlier, simpler time? This phrase in and of itself is a bit controversial, but I think knitting has an appeal of escape and of simplicity that is very comforting and is exactly the type of reaction that can be expected with information overload.
I have this theory that I’d love to pursue in some academic way that information overload is contributing to the growth in crafts. It’s partially based on my own knitting response to the stress of life, but it also seems to make a lot of sense to me based on knitting’s therapeutic properties, and what it has stood for since the 1800’s. Basically, the first craft revival was a bit of a rebellion against the industrial revolution and isn’t entirely different from the ethos of Etsy.
Could information overload and the internet be covertly contributing to the growth of craft precisely because of a negative reaction to it?