Sean Moffit at Buzz Canuck has created a wiki to enable more connectedness among the Canadian bloggers, called the 1 percent army. (Aren't lists fun?) Now someone has proposed that we have a virtual meeting in Second Life. [Which means I need to visit again soon, and re-learn how to walk, fly, and talk...Just as soon as I finish my GST return...]
The wiki has a wonderful quote attributed to Victor Hugo, and totally appropriate not just for this wiki, but for this year:
"One can resist the invasion of an army but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas." (Victor Hugo / 1802-1885)
At the same time, a client said to me today that "blogs are so passe ... it's all about podcasts now." Indeed, she may be right. It's hard to keep up. People keep asking me how I keep up. If only...!
Dunbar's number: or why you can't have all the coffee dates you want
I was thinking about something called Dunbar's number recently, which seemed to fit one aspect of this keeping up issue: I can't keep up with all the people in my network.
Dunbar studied primates and their social networks, which had an average size of about 50. Based on this work, he predicted the average size of human networks would be 150, based on our brain size. [whatever...]. Turns out that he was pretty close to right.
I heard an O.D. consultant describe that number as the campfire circle -- the number of people who can form a ring, and still feel like part of a shared bonfire experience.
In an actual coffee date with a very interesting person today, we discussed the formation of networks of resources among entrepreneurs, and how one might facilitate more of that kind of good thing. So people can find a good lawyer, a good banker, and so forth. The challenge is, if you're not careful, you reinvent the Yellow Pages. And it's been done.
But you can't have coffee dates with that many people, or even exchange e-mails regularly with them, no matter how interesting they are. Not if you want happy clients, at any rate. Eventually you just have to let go, and hope you bump into them at a conference somewhere. And hope they don't think you're a snob, or arrogant, appallingly disorganized, or just a plain old jerk of the first order.
I have had e-mail replies to notes I sent to people who I imagine to be much busier and more connected than me, such as Seth Godin and Warren Bennis. How on Earth do they do this? Do they have a small army of executive assistants? I can't even keep up with my comments page, and let me just apologize right now if I've offended you by not sending a personal note, as I used to be able to do.
What is the Dunbar's Number for brands?
With all this connecting going on, who's got the time for strategic thinking out there?
And why do you think anyone has the time or interest to read your lame advertising, listen to your direct marketing call, open your multi-page PDF brochure, or anything else that isn't completely compelling?
Indeed, why should anyone develop a connection to your brand? If you aren't in the inner circle of brands, maybe you'll just be disconnected, like a friend we used to have that we don't have time to have coffee with anymore. We still send them the Christmas letter, but it doesn't have a personalized PS. It's a lingering remnant of a past relationship, a memory, a memento of something that used to be relevant.
This is the joy, and also the challenge of social networks and all the cool technology that enables them. I am now in touch with researchers around the world, but didn't have my neighbors in for coffee. [And what with global alarming, we may not even bump into each other shovelling snow this year]
And somewhere in my inbox is at least one invitation to coffee from December that I still haven't answered, from an interesting person. If only one could make a living going for coffee, e-mailing and of course writing blog articles.
Dunbar's number, according to Answers.com is here.
Amusing version of Dunbar's number and what it means for man's inhumanity to man is here.
[Imagine what such a list would look like if it were U.S. bloggers... I think it's called Technorati?]