OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 44 – Gaining Legs
June 2, 2008
by Sean Hull
It’s now the end of our third year publishing the Open Insights newsletter. We thought we’d celebrate by relaunching our popular blog Oracle + Open Source. The design is new, there’s a lot more content, things are easier to find, and overall it is indexing great on Google, even better!
Like what you see here? Forward us to a friend. And let us know if you have any suggestions or comments. They are always welcome.
In This Issue:
This phenomenon has always intrigued me, how an idea can as they say "gain legs", and begin to walk on it’s own. In some cases you want to encourage this, such as building press for a book, or new business. As an idea catches on, less attention and finances need to be focused on advertising and PR. On the flip side this can also be a process which has some destructive affects, if it is an idea which misrepresents us, but gains legs none the less.
The recent democratic primary race between Clinton & Obama has had plenty of both. As one candidate "gains momentum", their polls move up, and voters are looking at them more favorably. This may be due to some real momentum in popular opinion, or because of heavy ad placements in that state before the primary, or because of the demographic makeup of that state.
Interestingly, we know politicians rarely match our original impressions. What is really happening is they are throwing out ideas, and seeing which ones catch, which ones gain legs. These are ideas about who they are, who they can be, what they’ll be able to do and accomplish. It is a lesson in the art of spin, to be able to turn every story your way, and bend it against your opponent.
Famous social psychologist Robert Cialdini points out:
"Commitment decisions, even erroneous ones, have a tendency to be self-perpetuating because they can ‘grow their own legs’. That is, people often add new reasons and justifications to support the wisdom of commitments they have already made. As a consequence, some commitments remain in effect long after the conditions that spurred them have changed. This phenomenon explains the effectiveness of certain deceptive compliance practices such as ‘throwing the low-ball’.
This has all sorts of implications for us in business and in our careers, since this process is at work in every social situation. Since we are all human, we are in a better position if we understand these processes, in ourselves and those around us. Cialdini has written a number of books on the topic including "Influence: How and Why People Agree to Things" and "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion". I highly recommend his stuff.
In our most recent interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.
Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.
The title makes it sound a bit like self-help for the helpless, but actually this book is chock full of tips and insights into human nature. Once you’ve read all of this stuff, the day-to-day behavior of politicians might even make sense!
Cialdini’s books are anecdotal and scientific. They’re full of great stories that illustrate important points, making them a pleasure to read, but he stays on point, focusing our attention on our singularly human nature of persuasion.
A little inane humor to brighten up your day… Jessica Hagy has this cute little blog called indexed. She uses index cards to illustrate little truisms, often with funny comments on venn diagrams. Here’s a funny one the relationship of status to money.
We all want to optimize our sites for Google. I mean other than a select few, that’s where most of our traffic comes from, so the more our site plays well with Google, the more users, readers, customers, and clients will find their way to us.
Most of the SEO material I’ve read has been pretty sparse, and unclear. But I’ve been following the topic over at my good Felix’s #comments blog, and I’m starting to get it. So you can too! Take a read: Google loves me, again!
If you haven’t been following the news on the topic, take a look over at this NY Times piece: Silicon Valley Start-Ups Awash in Dollars, Again. Personally I don’t think there is much hysteria this time around, sure there’s some, but not much. The industry is more mature now, and computers in general have lost their initial wow factor, so people are general more sober, and able to step back and see what is actually useful, can make money, is making money, or might well make money. That’s the root of investing smart.
Issue 42: On Efficiency
Issue 41: Roshomon Effect
Issue 40: Self Taught
Issue 39: Reputation Management
Issue 38: Are You Fast Failing
Issue 37: A Real Open Book
Issue 36: Rarity of Excellence
Issue 34: Hindsight Is Always 20/20
Issue 33: Market For Experts
Issue 32: Different Heritages
Archive: Past Issues
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Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here
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