Tim O’Reilly wrote a nice post today on the effects of self fulfilling prophecies on social media. One of the examples he provides (read his article, it’s longer and nicer than my brief summary here) is that if everyone uses the same sources to find or publish information, the system becomes self enforcing where in the end everyone covers the same stories (the Techmeme leaderboard effect). I wrote a similar warning earlier when the Techmeme leaderboard was first announced.
His solution to this vacuum we are creating together, is to ensure that you read fresh input, input that leads to diversion. Out of the crossover of information of, for example, art and science, new things will arise. I like that idea very much. It sometimes is hard to look for things that go beyond your own knowlegde or the field you are working in. But, learning niew things only happens when you are not in your comfort zone!
I would add a few more ways of getting fresh input:
- Get into conversations on blog posts. I’m really not interested in how many people read my posts. But I am interested in those that take the time to digest my writings and are willing to comment or add to it. I always try to respond, and also look up that person if possible. I have found some very nice and smart people I didn’t know about this way. Remember, inspiration comes from interaction.
- Look past the “scoop” posts (take the umph-tiest scoop post on Google taking over Jaiku’s an example, you know what I mean), and see what happens in the analysis afterwards. Often, when reading through those analysis posts and the comments they get provides me with lots of smart people I want to now more about.
- Keep track of people writing blog posts that are numbered (great example here), and people that scan massive amounts of blog posts to select their favorites for you. I found 2 great posts this way today.
- Check out Anne Truit Zelenka, who writes some very smart things about the way we (should be) consuming information. Think of looking at a huge river of water flowing, you don’t want to swallow it all, but become aware of the fish below the surface. Ties in nicely with the obervations of Tim O’Reilly. I would like to point both Anne Truis Zelenka and Tim OReilly to the work of Jonathan Harris (yes, I am a fan), who has done some amazing work on structuring emotions of millions of people in a different way.
And check out these two new video’s done by students from Kansas State University. They are essentially follow-ups on the video “The Machine is us/ing us” I wrote about earlier. Amazing how well they bring their analysis of what is going on with them in web 2.0. I like it already, as they focus on the social aspects of new technologies.
- Don’t forget to meet people in real life! Nothing better than having a conversation with inspiring people, especially if they are not working in your field of expertise!
The world is full of inspiration and fascinating people. All you need to do is look past reputations, leaders, big sites, and easy scoops, and let yourself be surprised by small things, unknown people and information beyond the information bubble we are often stuck in professionally. Get out of your comfort zone and start interacting!