We are inclined to think

by francine Hardaway on November 27, 2002

We are inclined to think that genuine innovators are loners, that they
do not need the social reinforcement the rest of us crave. But that’s not how it works… In his book ‘The Sociology of Philosophies,’ Randall Collins finds in all of known history only three major thinkers who appeared on the scene by
themselves: the first-century Taoist metaphysician Wang Ch’ung, the fourteenth-century Zen mystic Bassui Tokusho, and the fourteenth-century Arabic philosopher Ibn Khaldun. Everyone else who mattered was part of a movement, a school, a band of followers and
disciples and mentors and rivals and friends who saw each other all the time and had long arguments over coffee and slept with one another’s spouses. ” — Malcolm Gladwell

Why We Have to Stick Together

Amen brother (and sister). Since this is Thanksgiving week, I’m going to tell you what I’m most thankful for: all of you–friends, family and business associates — who remain in my life adding intelligence, warmth, joy, and even criticism. I hope I have added to your lives as you have enriched mine.

Every time I see that someone out there has opened and read one of these emails, I think how blessed I am to have people who care what I have to say enough to invest some of their precious time in reading it. Please keep offering me your feedback (even negative), which I take as a sign of your love.

In the same article by Malcolm Gladwell that I quoted from above (a book review from next week’s “New Yorker”), Gladwell points out that “one of the peculiar features of group dynamics is that clusters of people will come to decisions that are far more extreme than any individual member would have come to on his own. People compete with each other and egg each other on, showboat and grandstand; and along the way they often lose sight of what they truly believed when the meeting began. Typically, this is considered a bad
thing, because it means that groups formed explicitly to find middle ground often end up someplace far away. But at times this quality turns out to be tremendously productive, because, after all, losing sight of what you truly believed when the meeting began is one way of defining innovation.”

I love this point. Pushed to its extremes, it’s not unrelated to crowd psychology, which convinced on some perfectly nice Columbus Ohioans to rip up their city last weekend. But anywhere along the path to that kind of behavior, a support system, salon, cult, cirle — whatever–can be tremendously effective in making something happen.

There’s always strength in numbers, which is why I persevere at things like the Tech Oasis, where volunteers manifest almost magically to spread the word.

Want help from Stealthmode Partners?

Who Are You? And Who Can Be You?

“An identity-theft ring that relied on a low-level employee of a Long Island software company stole the credit histories of more than 30,000 people and used them to empty bank accounts, take out false loans and run up charges on credit cards, among other crimes, federal authorities in Manhattan said yesterday.” –New York Times, 11/26/2002

As a foster parent, I’ve been a victim of identity theft several times: the kids have used my credit cards, forged my name on checks, and gone to the ATM with my bank cards. Typically, I didn’t find out about it until I needed a loan and some bank or mortgage company pulled my credit.

THat was all before the Internet. Since then, identity theft has proliferated extraordinarily. The worst kind of identity theft comes from online records that aren’t secure, like the ones described by the Times. In the past few months of working with Edgeos, a “hacker” company that tests networks for security vulnerability, I’ve seen a remarkable lack of attention paid to cybersecurity. What a tough sell! No one really cares — not your lawyer, not your accountant, not your doctor, not your banker. They are living in a dream: “it will never happen to me.” You are probably a supporting actor in this dream.

I remember this same attitude from ten years ago, when I had a client who sold anti-virus software. No one at that time believed viruses were for real, or would affect them. Only after whole companies were taken down for days by viruses did people spring for anti-virus protection.

This is not peculiar to my readers, or to Arizona, or to small business. Indeed, this lack of adequate security is apparently endemic in cyberspace. May I suggest that you get your head out of the sand and order a security audit for your computers and/or your network? There’s even a free trial.

Have an attitude of gratitude, and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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