Friday, June 29, 2007

In other words, we're all just wildebeests...

Duncan Watts reported in the New York Times:
The long-run success of a song depends so sensitively on the decisions of a few early-arriving individuals, whose choices are subsequently amplified and eventually locked in... what people like depends on what they think other people like... a result that has implications not only for our understanding of best-seller lists but for business and politics as well.
This fellow is a professor of sociology at Columbia University, who thinks he's discovered something new. Most entrepreneurs will look at this like native Americans greeting Christopher Columbus.

At the end of the day, we live with this self-deception that we are rational creatures, when in reality there is only a thin layer of civilization on the cortex of our brains very easily overwritten by hormones. Much more often than we're willing to admit, we're all just wildebeests stampeding on an African plain.

Most great entrepreneurs not only know that, they know how to profit from it. Lewis Grizzard, a southern comic who was polular when I was in college, used to end each performance with the thought:
If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes.

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