The Power of Customization In The Geekonomy

It all comes down to a knitted burger at Hyper-Con.

No, really, someone had a new side business called "Jennifer's Creation" and she had a cute set of knitted ingredients that let you build your own burger out of parts.  It was neat and funny and amusing, and one of those odd things that made me think about the future of businesses, especially geeky ones.

Customization is something we expect.

Staring at knitted burgers suddenly made me realize just how much personalization sells in the Geekonomy.  From the customizable Gaia avatars to the self-building worlds of Minecraft.  Make your own fighting game characters.  The decades of mods.  Shared sims.

We're awash in customization and personalization.  We like it – and we're used to it.

Think about that for a second, we, the geeks and the agents of the geekonomy, are used to a lot of personalization and control.  We take it for granted that a webcomic will come in several forms (or at least have a database).  We're disappointed when a game we want has limited customization.

If you're making your own business or career that's geek-oriented, fannish, otaku-focused, then you'd better make sure there's customization.  Because we're so used to it we might take it for granted – and we might not provide it in our job, services, software, or whatever we make.

Because we're so used to it.

So a takeaway lesson from knitted burgers and self-dug caves is that the audience we work with, the technology and culture we work with, expects customization in . . . well, everything.  Learn to deliver it.

The second lessons that if you remember this you have a competitive edge.

When I was in gaming, I remember many times reading complaints about a lack of customization (and indeed, even as I returned to gaming-as-a-hobby people still complain).  On reflection, I was amazed at how people could leave out personalization when it probably was a comparatively simple effort.

So if you remember the value of customization, of personalization, of options, then you have an edge over competitors that forgot it.

So perhaps you can take things too far – you can dilute your niche with customization, you can present options wrong – but remember we expect customization in our culture and in the larger Geekonomy.

Otherwise, why Knitted Customizable Burgers?

– Steven Savage