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Archive for May 22nd, 2009

We often blame businesses, leaders, ourselves for “not knowing better.”

The reality is, in modern American, there is a healthy amount of conditioned incompetence.  Yes, as a society, we really don’t know better, don’t know different.  For a very long time, if ever,  we have not had to deal with some of the incredibly complex issues at play now.  For the most part our businesses, schools, health care, housing markets have been swept along in a 30 year string of mostly growth and expansion.

the last couple of generations literally do not know better. We have to develop new behaviors, new thinking, new ways of getting it done.

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The invention and acceptance of new vocabularies is important to the success of ideas, products, policies and methods.  Many valuable new “things” are written off simply because we lack applicable metaphors, analogies and vocabulary.  Many authors and inventors of new things fail to market a new vocabulary and set up new modes of thinking while they perfect the new thing itself.

Consider these ideas, products, philosophies, politics, sciences that have taken a long time to take hold because of our lack of vocabulary:

0 (concept of zero)

Probability

Natural Selection

Search Engine

Hyperlink

Terrorism

Recession/Depression

Google

Wiki

Computation

Web 2.0

Semantic Web

So how do we absorb a new vocabulary?  Through use.  Use of these products and ideas and association of their vocabulary to the use.

e.g. can you explain a Wiki to anyone?  you could if you showed them.  We still don’t have a general use of the word Wiki but we all “know what we mean.”

Developing the vocabulary within the intended audience of the product, idea or policy is as important to the success as the thing itself.  do not neglect this and/or don’t be surprised if people don’t “get it” at first…

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