Synchronous Lateral Excitation: What?! Get out of the Box, Get Back in the Box and Ride It.


So for fun I was reading this article on Synchronous Lateral Excitation, okay I am kidding I wasn’t doing it for fun but the author used the opening of the millennium bridge to make a point that that people created a synchronous feedback loop, think walking in lock step, that made the bridge start to sway uncomfortably, the bridge was then closed for 2 years as the figured out and solved the problem.  The author, Josh Cassidy, then went on to use this analogy for the capital markets and how it makes them crash prone.   Like a continuous self reinforcing feedback loop that makes them inherently more stable, as one bank stops lending, individually sounds prudent, as a group they shut down the credit markets, companies sell assets to raise money, one company selling assets to raise money, okay, everyone doing it floods the market with assets, whether stocks, bonds, etc and the value of these assets then decline, and get on for another round.

I then read something about Google, remember they do no evil, see #6 but their argument for mining as much personal data from you as humanly possible, even if it is done under the cloak on anonymity, is to give you results that are tailored to you.  That is when you search for cars, they might serve you not just generic information about cars, but they certainly will give you adwords based on cars, and maybe they even tailor it to Volvo because they new you were searching about Sweden earlier in the day, or maybe because of your web wake the found you to be ‘like minded’ with another sub-group that not only liked Volvos but were liberal democrats, or made the assumption because of the visits to Green Peace web site, and because of that when you searched for things began to serve your choices based on earlier predilections and habits, which to me is no different than synchronous lateral acceleration, that is if someone groups you with others that are like minded and that’s the info you get, this self reinforcing feedback loops only serves to bolster whatever view point you came in with.  (sidebar: I think the argument that it is anonymous is specious at best because although they do not, supposedly you are Bob living in Topeka, they know exactly who you are on the internet, I’m not arguing good or bad here just the anonymity angle).

So getting back to the ‘box’ in the titile.  What getting out of the box to me means is take in other view points, speak to  other people go to a tradeshow, presentation, meeting, forum, etc. that has people not in your industry, just to see what people are doing, problems they are facing, solutions they are using, and you start getting a better perspective, interesting how this whole crowd sourcing thing is taking off, which could be viewed as a way to compress this type of interaction.  But getting out of the box does not mean show up to work in clown clothes but rather how can we think differently about a problem, how do we bring a new perspective, and just getting out and talking to people in different venues starts to help, or e-mail, blogs, forums, and it gets too easy to stay in your comfort zone, and I’m guilty myself.  Next time getting on the plan pick up a magazine or paper you’ve never read before any maybe never had any intention of reading again, see what you get out of it.  Maybe you won’t get anything out of it, or maybe you’ll just see a cool ad for a volvo.

As for being in the box and ride it, how do we pick up on this momentum or recognize this momentum shift, internet bubble, real estate bubble, and we all know there will be another bubble, and what are you going to do about it.  It shouldn’t be, ‘I’ve seen this before and I’m not playing’ it should be how best to take advantage of this without being standing when the music stops, or not even that, it’s how can I play and not be stupid to buy into it.  Like during the internet bubble when I saw an interview with a young guy who owned the domain, and I think it was pantyhose.com, and for the millionth time I hear someone say, you know how big the pantyhose market is, I am going to be the Amazon of pantyhose, I think I knew right there that the music stopped.  Hopefully we can all be bright enough to do both.

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