Small towns, the biggest city in the world, and where to explore for digital inspiration

Seth Godin explained in a recent article why big cities can be valuable for creatives. Seth writes: “Cities work because they create collisions between and among diverse individuals. Ideas go to cities to be born and to be spread, and the chaos that bubbles just under the surface feeds those ideas.”

Essentially Seth is saying this: the more people you have interacting with one another, the more opportunities you have to experience new and different things, the more likely you are to have new ideas. Cities are the ideal playground for these experiences, particularly big cities where the people and ideas are multiplied ten-fold.

He continues: “If you want to find creative work, go to a city. If you want to find inspiration, expose yourself to diversity, not a bubble.”

So what are you to do if you live in a small city or rural area? If you can’t continuously participate in the experiences that big cities naturally yield, how are you to find inspiration?

I’m a firm believer that inspiration is everywhere, but a static environment that doesn’t have chaos bubbling up beneath it can still become drag, dull, and repetitive. Fortunately for us, the days of needing to be in a big city for experiencing new ideas and interactions are gone. Our new city is the largest in the world, with more interactions happening every second than ever imagined possible. You’re already a citizen of the city too: it’s the Internet.

As Seth explains: “The web, at its most effective, is a digital city, a place where access is equal and ideas race and connect and morph.”

The Internet is an ideal place for collisions of ideas and experiences to occur. You reading this now isn’t simply you reading an article, it’s an opportunity to rethink how you think. It’s the combining of my thoughts with yours. It’s an opportunity to reach out on Twitter, or Facebook, or Google+, or Instagram, or via email, or anywhere else you currently have access to and let the chaos of ideas bubble up from friends and strangers alike.

Of course, because the web is such a massive place, it’s hard to know where to start looking. So let me share some of my favorite sources for idea clashing and exploration online:

Quickly scanning Wikipedia, or Reddit, or Digg, or Stellar allows you to immediately see diverse ideas being thrown around. Pinterest and Ffffound are great places to discover seemingly random (albeit amazing) works of art or other nonsensical things. Booooooom is an absolutely amazing blog for art inspiration, and Dribbble is where you’ll find all of the best graphic and web designers in the world.

You could spend days on end exploring the chaos that is the Internet and you would never make it through a fraction of what’s out there. If you want to find creative inspiration online, just like in a real city: you have to start somewhere and be open to exploring.

So if you live in a small city or in the middle of the woods, embrace the revival of small towns first, then find some time to go explore the digital city that is the web.

Just be sure to get out of the city once in a while so you can actually find time to take all of those ideas and bits of inspiration and do what matters most: use it.

Photo by JD Hancock.