My Top Ten for 2006

This time of year somehow compels people to assess the key events of the year and I suppose I’m no different.

There’s been lists galore from Yahoo Top Searches, IT Products of 2006, Doc’s Top Blogs, Mashable’s 2007 predictions Round 1 and Round 2, the FutureLabs’ marketing trends, the Social Entrepreneur’s Toolkit to even the Amazon website about lists themselves. I’m not part of the cool club yet to participate in Blog Tagging, so I'll spare you my secrets...

So what to post, what to post?

Well, I’m certainly immersed into the future enough to spout my own perspective on the evolution of the web like this and Web 3.0, but I still believe the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!

There’s no need to end the year with discussion of social controversy. That's not really my bag, and others are already at it. During this I wondered if people in power want racism to continue because it's a way for them to manage otherwise fragmented voter market spaces?. After all, the irony of community is ultimately the fear of the outsider, is it not? Or whether or not its delusional to believe in God...

I also wondered whether “We are really smarter than me” is really true when less than 1% of the community is responsible for more than 90% of the content on sites like Wikipedia? Or, are currencies going to be the new countries as these virtual examples are already showing us the way?

Finally I decided on sharing the most meaningful things I’ve learned this year, and I hope by sharing them will benefit others as they’ve enlightened me:

1. You can’t share meaning until you’ve shared context.

2. You can’t be any more intelligent, you can however, be less stupid.

3. People don’t ignore you because they don’t know you, they ignore you because they think that they already do.

4. Of course the game is rigged! But if you don’t play, you can’t win.

5. Most people can’t handle real authenticity or transparency, only the illusion of them.

6. Most people will put what they consider to be their means of survival ahead of any “bigger than themselves” cause they claim to participate in.

7. No one is smarter than everyone but it’s still individual insight who originates direction.

8. You can’t really change anyone’s mind, you can however, change their context.

9. Efficiency=Satisfaction=Value

10. It takes much more effort to know than to believe; but it’s always better to know.

If Everyone’s Talking At Once, Is Anyone Listening?

I loved this cartoon on Hugh’s Blog the other day. If you’re still under the delusion that blogs are about the conversations that the Cluetrain imagined, you’re in for a rude awakening!

For starters, who has the time to read even the stuff that’s actually worth reading (such as the Z List), forget the scores of new blogs cropping up every minute? If you actually are trying to do stuff like run a business or have a life, it’s daunting at best.

Secondly, even if you comment on one of these blogs, the blog owner/editor will generally publish the comments that will further strengthen their point of view. It’s as forgettable as the bulletin board back in High School (unless you’re in student council)

But mostly, the information is not quickly applicable when I most need it. In other words, unless I decide to make an ongoing investment by adding your blog to my RSS reader and spend more time I don’t have interrupting my day with your feeds, the wisdom is lost into the ether as fast it appeared. So what to do?

Are good blogs valuable? Absolutely! Do I get to read my growing blogroll regularly? No. Am I missing out? Am I under informed? No and maybe but so be it.

Those of us honest enough to admit that blogs are an exercise in our own narcissism may be closer to getting more value from the wealth of info available online. Once you realize that, the information has a clearer context and thus easier to filter.

So my next question is:

Are connection economy markets really about conversation or is it about the end result of what conversations in real life achieve?

The end result of conversation in the real world is intelligence. We learn stuff about each other when we talk. In a hyper connected world, can that not also happen by seeing the choices we make and the patterns that emerge from them?

So maybe it’s actually one step further:

Markets are about the exchange of intelligence.

Does Talent Equal Popularity?

As the video above illustrates, true talent has little to do with what elevates people like Diddy, Britney Spears, Donald Trump and others like them to superstar status. Considering their more talented counterparts like Dr. Dre, Christina Aguilerra, Bruce Ratner and others occupy the lesser degrees of the same limelight, the obvious parallels to other brands who compete with substance vs. sizzle is definitely something to consider.

So why do we as a group choose the less talented and the less substantive? Is it because as Machiavelli had said that we judge by the results and not the process? Is it because the less talented remind us more of ourselves and thus more accepted? Or is it purely biological as our reptilian brains unconsciously gravitate towards the better looking (both physically and financially) to ensure our survival and the talent or substance just doesn’t feature in the process?

The truth is generally a combination of all factors relevant, but more importantly I believe the cause is less important than the outcome. Regardless of the reason, people gravitate towards perceptions. Positive "perceptions" of truth, wealth, beauty, philanthropy and authenticity always win over the real deal. If you've ever visited Paris in Las Vegas with the annoying faux French accents adorned by the staff and marveled at their profitability, you've seen it 1st hand.

Contrary to popular belief, the availability of information in our connection economy does little to change perceptions, rather the info only validates existing world views. Perceptions are still shaped by disinformation and cultural biases. I believe understanding the root of both the disinformation and the culture codes are more essential than ever. Because as Gottfried Helnwin had once said:

“Of course the game is rigged. But if you don’t play, you can’t win!”

How can we be more intelligent?

We are only as intelligent as we are. We can however, be less stupid.

Starting with Trust

Can you see applications of this kind of thinking in another commercial context?
Some Social Entrepreneurs are already setting the stage for the next world changing innovations here.

My question is this: If we are all part of the same market ecosystem in our connected global economy, then why should there be any distinction between "social" and "entrepreneur"?

Is Addiction Efficient?

Not to put the horse before Descartes, “I post, therefore I am” is a common sentiment shared by me and every other blogger addicted to putting their thoughts out in the cyber ether. Indeed the addiction to media, the Internet, to shopping, smoking, drugs, sex, etc. is pervasive in modern society to say the least. It’s safe to say that the pillars of capitalism are built on addiction. In other words, if you’re hooked, you “consume” and if you consume, you keep the economic engine chugging along...but has that ideology reached a point of diminishing returns? Here's an amusing little video that captures media addiction all too accurately:

So what's the point really? Is it not true that all addicts are essentially searching for satisfaction through their addiction but are coming up short every time? Thus, the cycle continues and the fat capitalists get fatter, right? But at what cost?

If at the core of addiction is a universal need for satisfaction, wouldn't it make more sense to organize commercial systems around satisfaction itself? What would "consumption" look like if we did that? Would economies be less beneficial to society or more?

Though this is a larger topic that warrants discussion beyond my blog post, my feelings on this are clear. I believe we now live in connected paradigm of civilization where the real costs of “consuming” have little choice but to be balanced by serving the ecosystem in which we participate. If we don't benefit the network as a participant, we don't survive here. The natural analogy is pretty obvious. Accounting for waste and provisioning for creating new customers shouldn't be just “ideals” but essential for creating sustainable satisfaction. A brand must not only entice you to merely buy to feed the addiction, but enable you to participate in the system which creates ongoing satisfaction.

The Virtual Me

There’s been a lot of talk of virtual reality communities lately. As with anything that gets people’s attention when money moves in a new direction, the focus on the revenue can blind us to what’s really at work. Sure we can generalize that social networks serve our very human need for recognition and acknowledgment and for the most part we’d be right. So what is the one thing about virtual worlds that’s so appealing? Most non-participants would say that it’s anonymity, but Cyworld does over $300K a day in virtual commerce based on being yourself.

I believe virtual worlds represent a significant shift in civilization we’re already participating in. How we present ourselves on our “about me” pages on our bios and profiles, and who we choose to be seen with both on and offline are all part of the larger phenomenon of amplifying who we ideally want to be. In short, virtual avatars are nothing more than our desires to create and recreate our ideal selves. Our desire to continuously create ourselves in our ideal image is a desire that is finally being enabled, and it's a pretty cool thing. It’s safe to say that we’ll be participating in such activities as the lines between the physical and metaphysical continue to blur.

The Human Network

The Internet may have inadvertently replicated our decentralized biological wiring in terms of computing, but collective human capacity far outweighs what machines can do. Without further exposing my inner geek, the simplest reason may be that we can understand and interpret chaos if nothing else. Just the ability to distinguish a “cooler” spot to hang out than another gives us the ability to out compute the most sophisticated of machines to date.

The idea that technology can help us amplify our abilities has now moved beyond science fiction to everyday fact. The practical applications of the human network is showing up in places like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to the hoards of location based mashups like Vibely brought on by Google Map’s open APIs to predicting stock picks and mobile social intelligence from startups like Mozes. Intelligence amplification or IA is working alongside Artificial Intelligence or AI in ways we’ve yet to imagine and the implications can be mind boggling if we lose focus on the why or how of what using intelligence means for all of us.

I think that intelligence is simply the means to negotiate our survival.

The intelligence needed is relative to the situation in which we need to survive. Philosophy aside, life, work and society are inevitably affected by connected intelligence fueled by the introduction of new technologies and suddenly “the situation” is more difficult to mask beneath the illusion of control we might have over it. So to play, we’ve got to know more stuff either personally or processed through some computer to survive.

In a less connected society we needed our network of people to help us make decisions, and nothing has changed other than scale and frequency to keep up with rapid change. Just as one cannot write a compelling summary without ever written a story, a network cannot become truly intelligent without the consentual participation of actual humans.

© 2006 GROW |