“What are we doing?” my wife asked as we both looked up from our phones one evening. We’d been browsing feeds of posts, images and news for hours on end, mindlessly filling the gaps between work and sleep. “This is our one precious life,” she told me. That line, paraphrased from a Mary Oliver poem, became shorthand for us to spend more time on what we loved.
That week, we started collecting some of the things that brought us joy and shared them with each other. She grew up birding and knew I was interested, so she sent me links to resources on bird identification, migration patterns and good binoculars. Since we met, we had also dreamed about someday starting a flower farm, so we began collecting notes on farming plans, seed catalogs and other ideas to chase that dream together.
It was powerful to tell each other what we wanted to spend more time on. And once we did, we found that collecting related ideas, links and resources together gave us a way to spend more time on our shared passions in real life.
To explore this idea further, four colleagues and I created a new experiment called Keen as part of Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental projects. We worked in close collaboration with a team at Google called People and AI Research (PAIR), dedicated to human-centered machine learning systems, to develop this experiment.