SNAI read recently about an ongoing study that looks at the influence of social networks on people's lives. The startling results so far show that the people in our life - friends in particular - have more of an impact on us than we may have ever considered. If, for example, I have a friend that becomes happier, I'm more than 60% more likely to become happier - same with obesity, drinking and smoking habits, depression, ill-health, the inclination to turn out and vote in elections, a taste for certain music or food, and even a preference for online privacy.

It turns out that the best way to ensure that we have health, wealth and happiness is to ensure that the people around us are doing okay too.

Of course, taking this a step further, our friends are all influenced by a network of people that is beyond our direct reach - our third degree friendship circle. These people, people who we may never have met, have an impact on our life because they affect our friends, who in turn affect us. The only possibly way to turn what could be a vicious cycle - a social epidemic of whatever it is we don't want in our life -  is to ensure that our friends in turn know that they need to help all their friends achieve their goals.

This is the fundamental understanding of uBuntu, which, besides being a slick alternative to Microsoft's Operating System, is an African Humanist Ideology that is perhaps best summed up in the phrase:
"Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu" or "People are only people because of other people", or even more plainly stated: "You are a product of your social network".
AuthorDave Duarte
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Some of the regular visitors to this blog may have noticed that I have posted progressively less over the last 6 months. Recently my posting has almost come to a standstill. There's a lot behind this, which I've been trying to make sense of.

In short, it comes down to a sense of frustration I'm having with the amount of information I seem to have to deal with before anything actually gets done. As an example, besides spam, I get around 80 emails a day, all of which seem to require an urgent response. This is not good for someone who spends most of his time out the office working with groups. It basically means that most of my time in the office is split between dealing with email, and reading news so I can stay in touch with industry trends and innovations. This leaves very little time to spend working with my colleagues (at Huddlemind, Creative Commons and Muti) on important stuff like strategy. All this information feels like it's paralysing me!

In fact, this sense has sat with me for a while, and it's the primary reason why I've been so drawn to the study and practice of "Attention Economics".

So, regarding my blog...

Someone Has Already Said It

Perhaps the main reason I haven't been posting is because, quite honestly, everything I can think of saying has already been said by someone else online. And its not often that I have felt I could say it better.

For those who are interested in what I recommend reading, or what I find interesting, I would like to introduce you to my Diigo links which you can see in the sidebar on the right. There are some superb finds there, and they're all sorted by topic/tag.

I feel so full up with other people's information that there's barely enough space for me to form my own insights and share them.

Experiences vs Information

Maya Angelou once said: "People will forget what you tell them, but will never forget how you make them feel".

For people, like me, who believe that our Attention is increasingly scarce and valuable today, there is a cost attached to each new piece of information that we consume. Information consumes Attention. Despite my knowledge and understanding of "Attention Economics", I've been spendthrift with my own Attention. Now I have a bit of a deficit to deal with - each waking moment is currently spent processing the information I've amassed, at the expense of the experiences and interactions I could be having.

Information, by the way, is inherent in everything. It's just that we have come to prioritize encoded information - in the form of writing, sounds, and video - over real-world, information - in the form of experiences.

Reading and Writing

When I first started blogging, I enjoyed the sense of personal discovery through public disclosure. However, at some point the blogging became more about building an audience than about sharing ideas.

I can say the same about live chat, email, and meetings. My initial experience of these filled me with delight in the process of sharing ideas. They all now seem more like an obligation than a priviledge.

So in my attempt to reclaim my own sense of daily delight in my work and online pursuits, I am cutting down on all these attention traps, drastically. In their place, I hope to clear some space to experience and to reflect more, and to allow my own insights to emerge.

As my esteemed friend, Joe Botha, has said: "The true breakfast of champions is a low information diet".
AuthorDave Duarte
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Last week, my perspective was shifted by an improvisational leadership educator. I told him "Robert, you always make the best of situations", and he said: "No, Dave, I always make good of situations". There's an important distinction there.

See, there is only one best solution to any challenge, but there are usually alot of good solutions. When I am focusing only on "the best", I can get gripped by fear of failure and end up not taking any action at all.

In the business sense, there are companies who's top goal for the next year is "to be the best in xyz-sector". How can they expect to make market-disrupting innovation breakthroughs in this way? Doesn't focussing on being the best keep us from being characterful?

When I asked an entrepreneur billionaire a few years ago what his number 1 tip for business success is, he told me: "Don't try be big. If you're focussed on being big, you'll mess up. Just try be good and the growth will be natural".
AuthorDave Duarte
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27dinner27Dinner Cape Town has a new home: The Hotel School restaurant in Mouille Point (next door to the Waterfront and the Radisson Hotel). *

The good news: not only do they offer a beautiful spot (right on the ocean front!), delicious food, great value for money, and all the sound, lighting and projection equipment we need... but we can seat 100 people too! So this means that there's now a further 20 spaces available for 27-4

As always, the 27dinner is a great opportunity to meet other people who are interested in media, technology, marketing, programming, technology, the web, and generally fascinating combinations of those.

There will be a couple of talks, and the wine will be sponsored by Stormhoek. If any other company would like to sponsor a prize or two (or hundred), then we're also open to that.

To join us, go along and pop your name on the wiki - or drop me an email.

* Thanks to Mr Knox and Captain Chris for scouting and scoring the new venue :)
AuthorDave Duarte
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