The Short Tale: an oversimplified, factually-challenged internet fairy story by Phillip Hofmeyr

8 February 2008

A long, long time ago bookshops had tiny little shelves with about 5 books on them (Waterstones). The shop assistant either told you what to buy (marketing) or what everyone else was buying (crowd psychology). Some bestsellers became bigger bestsellers simply on the basis of ‘herd mentality’. Along came the digital marketplace (internet) and stuffed another 500 books onto the shelf (Amazon). All of a sudden we had unlimited choice (the Long Tail) and choosing a book started to take forever (especially if you’re me!). ‘Marketing’ & ‘crowd psychology’ became decidedly average selection tools. Fortunately in wandered Web 2.0 with Wikinomics (user generated content & mass collaboration) closely followed by social networking. And suddenly we had the perfect platform to leverage the Wisdom of Crowds. But not the herd-type crowd of days gone by. Rather, a diverse collection of independently-deciding individuals (Facebook friends!?).

Snagsta [enter stage left] wants to use this platform and your networks to help you find things and make decisions without having to trouble people directly with questions. If we can make Snagsta remarkable (Purple Cow) you are more likely to tell your friends about it (The Tipping Point). But just in case the Tipping Point is toast we’ve got a couple of other tricks up our sleeves because you never quite know where your luck is going to come from (The Black Swan).

Now… about choosing that book…

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More – Chris Anderson
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few – James Surowiecki
Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion – N. Goldstein, S. Martin & R. Cialdini
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything – Don Tapscott & Anthony D. Williams
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable – Seth Godin

Too much of this stuff can make you start to take yourself a little too seriously, so to remind you that we’re really just children at heart, buy this book:

The Eye of the Moon – Dianne Hofmeyr
(how about that mom!)

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