In my ever-expanding obsession with coining terms*, I’ve come up with another one: Ustiquity.

It’s the property of being both “ubiquitous” and “sticky” that describes information on the Internet and the increasingly available manner in which we access that information.

See, we’re all creating information, having conversations, making thoughts explicit with language. We’ve always done that. But now, because we do so much of it online, it’s sticking around — discussions I had on usenet in 1993 are still out there someplace, searchable with Google.

Stickiness has existed in other media, of course, such as writing something and putting it into a shoebox or publishing it, in which case it’s in a library and others can find it there. But on the Internet, it’s available to everyone all the time.

In addition to this, the Internet is doing a pretty impressive job of not “staying put” — it won’t stay on our computers. It’s leaking out all over the place. Onto our phones, our iPods, our Blackberries, our car consoles, and even some high-end refrigerators. Basically, the deal is that this is only the beginning. Younger people are already expecting to be able to access the ‘net from wherever they happen to be (Good lord, who knew that Buckaroo Bonzai’s silly “Wherever you go, there you are” koan would end up being prescient??).

Ustiquity is this property of stickiness (things don’t decay or drift away as easily — they tend to stay around, even if it’s just on the Wayback Machine or in Google’s cache database) plus ubiquity (all that stuff that’s sticking around is becoming more and more available, anywhere, anytime).

This doesn’t mean that it makes it easier to access … it just means it’s possible. The more ustiquitous stuff there is in the world, the harder it is to find any particular item.

So, ustiquity is an opportunity, but it’s also a heck of a challenge.

Feel free to use this term whenever you want. You can credit me or not, up to you. I can always point to my dated entry on my blog, or give ustiquity a much-ballyhooed Technorati tag, which will probably end up on a web archive someplace, somewhere, and therefore everywhere and always.

Unless, of course, it doesn’t.

(* Previous coinings include “metafatigue” and “gurule.” Yes, this is a sad little hobby. )

Author: Andrew Hinton

I use information to architect better places for humans. More at

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