“I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds – but I think of you always in those intervals.”

The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia


“Social capital. Connections among individuals – social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arises from them.”

Robert Putnam


We think we never have enough time. For anything. We constantly feel rushed and forced to ‘do’ rather than explore. Maybe that is true; and maybe it is not. But the consequence is that we don’t think of time as something to be used; we just ‘manage within it.’ Well. Maybe we should explore the spaces between seconds for a bit today. that may seem crazy, but if we average (which means there can often be much more) 30,000 decisions a day, well, the space between seconds can loom just a bit larger. Now. That last point becomes a bit important. There are a shitload of good things swirling around us at any given point, any given space between seconds, but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge technology has a nasty habit of over-empowering the more nasty parts of society. Or maybe the issue is we never really defined what we thought a better society was nor even offer up a vision to everyone, so that (1) technology overtly created things that would nudge us toward it – space between second by space between second and (b) show a scenario to society at large that they would incrementally nudge themselves toward somewhere within the space between the seconds – within the 30000 decisions they make daily. All that said. Everything is not positively emergent, therefore, spaces between seconds become important (as possible leverage moments).

Which leads me to what’s in the space between seconds.

Cultural norms, or societal norms, dominate the spaces. And if cultural norms provide the micro rules of individual behavior, then social capital is the emergent result of individuals creating cooperative communities. To be clear, not call cooperative activity generates social capital, the most productive cooperative activity is captured in repeated social interactions. Anyway. This is important because norms drive thoughts and thoughts beget actions. Think about something strongly enough and it will influence not only how we think, but how we act. It shapes what we do. Yeah. We become neurologically what we think. If that is true, I imagine we should be asking if we cannot think clearly, what do we become? As we get cognitively bludgeoned the bludgeoners actually impose a version of determinism. The technology, and overstimulation, exploits the natural loopholes in free thought and free will, and begins to shape, well, us. Biologically our brains are always in flux adapting to new information, new stimuli, new circumstances, and new contexts. This begets the question, in a 24/7 world, what if the circumstances and context are always in a flux? Can a brain constantly in flux accommodate a world in flux? Look. The brain, and all the neural circuits, are all subject to change. Feelings, seeing, thinking, learning, remembering, even perceptions, “the brain has the ability to reprogram itself on the fly, altering the way it functions” (James Olds). And, yet, to adapt, some things must be cast aside.

Which leads me to the power of the spaces within seconds resides in the flux.

Self is not a centralized all powerful entity impervious to time, space, ideas and connectivity. Self is a collection of constantly changing microsociety of ideas within images of what the mind ‘sees’ as well as ideas of what ‘ought to be.’

People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.

Thích Nhất Hạnh

That said. It is within the spaces that we actually assess; in real time.

  • How am I different today then yesterday?
  • Did I make a difference to anybody or anything?
  • What could/should I do differently?

Yeah. In the spaces between seconds, we assess growth, impact and improvement/progress. Sure. Its good if we reflectively ask these questions to ourselves to assess how far we have come as well as how far we have to go, but the rubber hits the road in the space between the seconds. The space of microsocieties where larger societies are crafted thread by thread; stitch by stitch.

Which leads me to technology.

We cannot pretend that the space between seconds is too little to matter just as we cannot pretend technology itself doesn’t matter, i.e., it is how we use it that matters. I will suggest it is healthy to ignore the technocrats as, well, an inventor is not the most reliable judge of the value of their invention.

“if the experience of modern society shows us anything, it is that technologies are not merely aids to human activity, but also powerful forces acting to reshape that activity and its meaning.”

Langdon Winner

But the reality is many of our routines, and lives, follow the paths laid down by technologies. I don’t believe it’s a stretch to suggest that every technology is an expression of human will – in some form or fashion. What I mean by that is through our tools we seek to expand our power and control over circumstances as well as time and space. Well. I bet that sounds complex, if not overly complicated, when applied to spaces between seconds. Well. It is. But life is nothing if not complex or complicated.

We have convinced ourselves we do not have time for complex

And simplifying things is actually destructive – even to micro spaces like those between seconds. Oversimplification is not efficient. It actually demands more time in a variety of ways. The two simplest ways it does so is <1> the time we overinvest attempting to isolate the simplest version of what is anything but simple and <2> the amount of time & energy we have to invest to thwart misguided behavior & reactions to our oversimplification. I would be remiss, because this section is about technology, if I didn’t point out technology’s entire reason for being is to simplify. And it is human nature to take it’s simplification and, well, oversimplify everything. Technology destructs time and space and we embrace this destructive behavior gladly.

We do this destructive behavior because we have convinced ourselves that we all have shorter, and shortened, attention spans.

We do this destructive behavior because we have convinced ourselves in our perceived “never enough time” world we have to simplify everything <to fit everything in>.

We do this destructive behavior because we have convinced ourselves that in a blizzard of nonstop things constantly vying for our attention that the specie between seconds are (a) irrelevant and unimportant and unpowerful, or (b) catastrophic tipping points worthy of everyone’s attention.

We do this destructive behavior because anything micro is easy to not understand.


All I can really say is that if you navigate the spaces between seconds well, you will most likely live a meaningful, and full, life. Ponder.

Written by Bruce