A Data Hoarder vaccination against TED Talks

by Jason on November 28, 2011 · 0 comments

University of Michigan Card Catalog by David Fulmer

TED Talks have been around a while.  The current intro video says there’s something like 900 available online.  I can’t say for certain which one I watched first, but I was an early adopter, subscribing to the podcast feed, and so on.  In recent years, I fell away from them, mostly because (and I realize how much I let others drive my decisions here, but it was expedient) I kept hearing people at work talk about them, but their lives never seemed to change as a result.

Lately we’ve been tuning back into them, having cut cable and needing something to fill some gaps in the day (and the Apple TV makes it easy) and I’ve noticed something interesting about TED talks.  Two things, really.

The first is that some of them contain Really Interesting Information that I can use to shape my future actions.

The second is that the bastards put dates at the beginning of them.

As an admitted data hoarder who also, by his own admission, had a chance to watch all of these much earlier than, say, right now, this is crushing at first.  To watch a video that’s been online for 2, 3, or even 5 years now, and see a nugget of wisdom that could change the next day, week, or even lifetime of my business, well, that hurts a little.

Like I should have stopped goofing off training and implementing to watch one more thing.

And the key, well, one of them, is that the information might not have meant as much as it did right now if I hadn’t watched it with the set of experience and problems that I have facing me right now.

The other key is to remember that the entire extent of human knowledge has been available long before the advent of the modern internet.  If you’re a data hoarder, there’s a good chance you’ve visited a library in the past (insert large number) years, so let me remind you that the sheer physicality of it all reminded you pretty quickly that there’s a ton of knowledge out there that you’ll never ever get to, ready or not, and any pretense of simply trying to keep up with the “new stuff” is a pipe dream and, keeping with key #1, a distraction.

Hey, data hoarder: you’re going to find information that you need that was available well before you found it. That’s OK. You found it, and the real test is what you do with it now.

Photo by dfulmer

Extreme more than words

OK, a fun story since I wrote about the need to vaccinate yourself as an entrepreneur: it’s not a complete study, but from one man’s experience, simply knowing that certain events may happen on the path to success is enough to turn them from potentially crippling events to solid goalposts of validation.

Let me explain: in the past, a negative comment would simply validate every negative thing I’ve thought to myself about an idea, no matter how silly that thought might be. Despite all the opportunities our modern age offers, I’m often jealous of previous generations who communicated at the speed of fax and telegram, where someone had to make an effort to complain. In the modern age, an anonymous comment is super-simple to do, and oh, how those silly people used to sting me!

Now that I’m aware of the vaccination philosophy; that the path to success will in fact bring notice to your efforts and this notice will attract cheaply-dispensed criticism, it’s gone from something that I’d cringe at to something that says, hey, you’re on the right track, because this is what happens to people who’ve been on your path.

(Oh, and if you want some good practice in this area, put a few videos on YouTube. Commenters there are simply amazing.)

The trick now is to differentiate between objections that validate the business model and objections that are real and legitimate and risk getting swept under the rug as they seem to validate your actions. I don’t have a good metric for this, and just as I’m sure some real innovators throughout history were ridiculed by everyone they met before they proved their genius, I’m equally sure that some people are indeed crazy and should really listen to some of those objections and not treat everything that comes in as validation, regardless of if it’s negative or positive.

For me, right now, I’m inclined to turn negativity into validation from “haters,” as it were. If it continues for too long without some additional positive feedback I might have to reconsider, but I don’t have a timeframe. At the moment I’m simply enjoying the liberation of not only not caring what other people think but also letting it empower my next set of actions, because history tells me these facts are normal.

Oh, and normally I have a photo starting the post but nothing fits this new mindset, which I’ve taken as further validation. I was going to go with something like this, but the key New Idea is that no matter how much you point it out, your criticizers won’t get the distinction with your worldview. More on that later. Today you get a picture from an Extreme video that might fit, but I had bad prom flashbacks halfway through so I don’t know.