The Amazon Thought Experiment

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I conceived this thought experiment a few years old which I remembered today as I pondered what to blog about this week. I call it the ‘Amazon thought experiment’. As an avid book reader, Amazon is my favourite online bookstore. This is because Amazon has more book titles than any bricks and mortar bookshop in the world and it also has the best book deals. Okay, imagine you were given a voucher that allowed you to buy 100 books of your choice on Amazon. What would you buy?

I believe that your selected 100 books would reveal a lot about you. You will only buy the books which you are interested in reading. You won’t buy a book that you don’t intend to read. The titles of the books are irrelevant. It is the themes of the 100 books that is the most important thing. Your choices will reveal what you are passionate about. I believe that when you take stock of all the 100 books; certain themes will emerge about your interests and passions which you are probably unaware of. Why 100 books instead of a smaller number of books?  I would argue that you need these many books to enable as many themes and topics to emerge.

We all have certain recurring themes that define who we are. These themes are based on our temperaments and interests. We are thematic creatures by nature. Yes, there are some book purchases that you would make as part of the selected 100 books which will have more to do with the season or stage of life which you are currently in. For example, if you just developed an interest in photography, there is the probability that you would buy some books on that topic. This interest might become a lifelong thing (theme) or just a fleeting interest that fades with time.

It requires a certain level of self-awareness to identify the themes that you are passionate about. This is because themes are part of us and this makes it hard to see them.

The hardest thing to see is what is in front of you because you are familiar with it.

The familiarity makes it invisible and you are blind to it. This is the reason for the Amazon thought experiment. It is a subtle way of bypassing the familiar in order to identify the themes and topics that are important to you. The thought experiment will enable you to identify what you are interested in and then you can now use that information to question why you are interested in those particular topics and themes.


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