Archive for January, 2008

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How would it look if the earth revolved around the sun?

Ludwig Wittgenstein

I liked this podcast so much, I listened to it twice. And I may listen to it again. It’s a beautiful discussion about the philosophy and impact of Ludwig Wittgenstein. You can find this gem on the Philosophy Bites site. Regular hosts Dave Edmonds and Nigel Warburton discuss Wittgenstein with Barry Smith of Birkbeck College London.

I particularly like the discussion of Wittgenstein’s later work and the Philosophical Investigations. Although they even made the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus sound interesting. There’s a great story recounted about Elizabeth Anscombe saying to Wittgenstein, that she can “understand why people thought that the sun revolves around the earth.” Ludwig asks, “why?” Anscombe says, “Well, it looks that way.” Wittgenstein responds, “and how would it look if the earth revolved around the sun?”

Did Memes Create the Digital to help us Remember?

If there is such a thing as “memes,” did they drive humans toward the digital? A meme has been defined as a theoretical unit of cultural information. Digital replication is exact, whereas human memory is fallible. Some say human memory doesn’t even remember things, but rather the relationship between things. If a meme wanted to persist in an exactly identical form as it passed from human to human, it could only do so through the digital. In some ways this is counter to the idea of evolution, it’s not an adaptive system. The digital meme can’t adapt because it would become unreadable. This meme, and no other, shall survive.

Transparency and Information Asymmetry in Venture Capital

Is The Funded going to create transparency and symmetric access to information for both buyers and sellers in the private investing market? TechCrunch says that they’re going to create a database of term sheets. If this works, it’ll change the landscape of private investing.Today venture capital firms have vision into the pricing market, in fact they largely create it. New companies are completely in the dark. How do you decide the right price for equity units in a private company? How does a new company know if they’re getting a good deal, or getting taken? Openness and transparency will change the market and just like with IPO pricing, the status quo will resist the change.

Who Spreads Contagious Memes to the Network?

Influentials distribute to Networks

Duncan Watts is stirring it up. Fast Company asks “Is The Tipping Point Toast?” Just when everyone had internalized the Tipping Point and the meme of Influentials playing a key role in the distribution of ideas/trends through the network by virtue of their extra large social graphs and reputations. We like the idea of being able to influence the influencers through public relations or marketing projects. We design communications plans to advertise to the special few who are connected to and influence large numbers of people. In a conference room somewhere, someone is designing an ad campaign to appeal specifically to Robert Scoble.

Mass distribution through a network

Watts has created computer models that show that Influentials aren’t key to a trend’s tipping point. Although he does show that they have the effect of magnifying the reach of a trend through the network. Mass marketing that automates sharing will permeate a network through ordinary nodes more often than through influential nodes. The tipping point is the readiness of the network to accept a new trend. Apple’s new MacBook Air is a good example. Influentials like Jason Calacanis and Mike Arrington have stated that they will buy and use the Air. If the MB Air is ahead of the market’s readiness for it, will it make a difference who endorses it? A viral trend contained to early adopters is not a trend.

Is the network ready for the idea that Influentials aren’t as influential as we think? I’m putting that meme out on another node, but how did it get to me? I found it via, I subscribe to Jeremy Keith‘s bookmark flow. I look at what other people bookmark. I added the link to my bookmark flow and clicked over to the article and read about half of it. I forwarded the link to a few people that I thought might find it interesting. This morning during my regular Sunday visit to the news stand I saw a copy of Fast Company magazine with the same article. I bought a copy, and read it all the way through before composing this post. But this idea/meme isn’t a good candidate for trend status. It’s only interesting to a small subset.

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