Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Working the math in your favor

Last week I was part of a panel discussion about technology and business. Forty or fifty accomplished businesswomen attended--I was the only man in the room. In hindsight, this was a perfect opportunity for me to focus on Bion's three pillars of group behavior (or at least the first of those three pillars, having the mating partner ratio so heavily in my favor); however, I confess I occasionally let my thoughts drift from that #1 priority and instead contemplated the diverse perspectives on technology represented in in the room.

The audience was predominantly business-savvy and ranged from the tech-curious to the tech-confused. It was not the most receptive setting for preaching a Taoist bliss of ignorance, but that's what I pitched, with lines like "the best technology is whatever you're using now"; "reading email when you receive it lowers your IQ more than chronic pot-smoking"; and "technology is implemented to benefit its creators, not its users, so look for technology where the users and the creators are the same."

The room was filled with questions about LinkedIn and Twitter. I realized that LinkedIn has taken hold of a much wider business audience than it had when I last disparaged it on these pages 2-3 years ago. Sensible successful business people speak with complete earnestness about the 500,000 people in their LinkedIn network, and I am speechless.

I have some hope. My LinkedIn network has 2,850,200 people, including 16,927 new connections in just the last 4 days. Before I leverage all of them, however, I sense that LinkedIn is giving me an opportunity to update this old joke:

A museum guide leads a group of tourists through a dinosaur exhibit. Stopping at an impressively scary skeleton baring its fossilized teeth, he says, "This T-Rex is 70 million and 3 years old." One of the tourists responds, "Wow! How do they figure that out so precisely?" The guide responds, "Well, when I started working here, this skeleton was 70 million years old, and that was 3 years ago."

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