The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Oct 18, 2007

I’ve never been able to do too much computer-work on a plane. First of all they don’t make coach-class seats for 6’2″ tall 230 pound individuals and second, trying to balance a laptop on one of those tiny fold-out trays mounted to the back of a reclining seat is nothing short of torture. So, I’ve always used my plane rides as opportunities to get caught up on my reading.

I have a stack of books to get through, the first of which is The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki. I gotta say, that this is one of those seminal books that everyone in the New Media echo-chamber talks about, but at the same time, I wondered whether the premise could be sustained for a few hundred pages. Well, I’m about 120 pages in and I’m still hooked.

The John Maynard Keynes quote on page 51 stopped me in my tracks:

Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for the reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.

Probably one of the most challenging aspects of being an early adopter is the fact that you can see things that others can’t. To me, it’s easy to see that the world is changing — especially in the way people communicate with one another. Businesses are communicating differently with clients, partners, and third-party vendors. And yet, most managers are going about their jobs blindly, expecting that tomorrow will be no different than today.

Yet, even those who see the writing on the wall seem to be holding back for some reason, and it took Mr. Keynes to help explain why.

Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for the reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally

And so they plow forward, sticking their heads in the sand, hoping that this is all just a passing fad.

And to be fair, perhaps it is. If so, then the joke’s on me. If not, I’ll just succeed unconventionally.


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