Since 2006, I've been learning about social media analysis—as a business, a set of technologies, and a set of business practices. If you read the blog, you've seen some of what I've figured out. Along the way, my professional interest in the information value of social media activity collided with some of my other interests, which has led to a rough draft of a strategy that I'm modestly calling Omniscience.
It's too early to publish the whole framework, but I want to share a few foundational thoughts that are shaping the way I look at things. I find myself referring back to these every day, whether the topic is business, current events, or long-term futures. As you read through the individual elements, think about how they interact.
- Everything is connected.
A drought in China, floods in Australia, turmoil in the Middle East—which could affect economies in the US and Europe? Right. All of them. Cause-and-effect relationships circle the globe, and they don't respect the arbitrary domains of knowledge that we create. Energy, climate, economy, politics—they're all connected, and so is everything else.
- Everything is uncertain.
Any useful prediction has an element of uncertainty that we like to ignore. It's easier that way, and anyway, uncertainty is interpreted as weakness. A better approach is to embrace the uncertainty—evaluate it, and consider the possibility of unexpected outcomes. Do you bet everything that you're right?
- Think and, not or.
I see so many topics framed as false choices when the right answer is probably all of the above. Explore with and, focus with or, and never stop exploring.
- Only one future.
We like focus, but focus projected into the future is tunnel vision. We have only the one planet. Everyone's predictions—on technology innovation, business growth, sovereign debt, energy supply, climate, demographics—have to play out in the same world. Everything is connected and uncertain, so predictions interact, even (especially?) when we would prefer to deal with one topic at a time.
Update: the rest of the framework is up.
One of the first people to see the Omniscience framework suggested that I read The Black Swan, just in time for the Arab Spring uprisings that threaten so much of what had been described as "stability." Perfect timing.