Monday, November 24, 2014

Friendship & Entrepreneurship

In this digital information age where information is a commodity and social networking is the new frontier for friendship, the question I have is this: Is it possible for this new form of friendship to be a major force in the new economy that we are trying to invent for this brave new digital world of ours?

The first thing about this digital world is that we can be instantly and constantly connected at all times - if we want to. Most of us imagine that this constant contact is the best thing that can happen to the modern person or to all modern persons. I can call you at any time and you can call me at any time. What can we possibly say to each other if we are constantly talking to each other, and not dedicating ourselves to doing something else so that we can report new stuff to each other. It is as if gossip can in itself generate new ideas (possibly) or information (possibly not).

Constant contact can generate new information only when we are simultaneously trawling the net which therefore means that we are then susceptible to be baited on the net, because we belief the net to be the best source of information.

I would not imagine any clever person using the net to deposit new ideas (not necessarily innovative ones) which no one has ever thought of before (except probably this blogger who, by definition, means he is not so clever after all). It is therefore foolhardy to therefore be on the net all at times in the hope that somehow, somewhere a gem will float out from the screen like a genie out of the bottle which then asks: What do you want me to do for you?

It is therefore likely that what you will get from the net is what economists call "arbitrage" - the opportunity to bridge values or prices in different places because of time difference or local knowledge gap. So the person who gets the information first will have the advantage of acting with "insider" information, so to speak. (Like what David Ricardo did using pigeons to bridge the information gap on stocks between UK and Europe.) But then if you are getting information from the net, so would everyone else on the net as well, and therefore you would have that first advantage. You have serious flaw in your networking and information system.

The way to play this information-as-commodity game is to take at least a first order differential on the basic information, if not a second order differential. You have to process the basic information. Processing requires theoretical knowledge, some hypothesis or theory, or an insight into how the reality actually works.

This is why we all have to go to school to learn the old ways of thinking, to learn how to think differently from the old ways and from others present, and to take leaps in our thinking and vision. We have to learn to stand on the edge and learn to have the courage to take a deep breath and dive into the unknown, oblivious of what the crowd at the back are saying how stupid you may be.

Courage is borne out of conviction and conviction comes from knowing what you know, and knowing what everyone else does know. Conviction is a lonely journey inside oneself which culminates in an act of determination and persistence. Conviction is the product of hard work and deep thought. It doesn't come from chitchatting.

But new ideas can come from chitchatting - with different minded people. You are comfortable only with your own kind, then you might as well talk to yourself; you are a comfort junkie. But if you want new ideas, talk to people with different ways of looking at things. These different people make you uncomfortable, because it is hard to listen to different ideas without wanting to shout them out first. But once you are comfortable with different ideas, you can't bear to listen to copycats (people who copy ideas learned from the net). You hear music from different notes.

I am apprehensive when I hear people say they want to be entrepreneurial but are unable to accept different views or see things in different ways. The problem is often comprehension. A statement can have multiple meanings in normal language, unless you have couched the whole statement in legalese which has covered all angles and tied up all loose ends. A common sentence is often ambiguous or imprecise - it requires a "you know, I know" kind of nod to affirm that we are on the same page and on the same line. Otherwise, it is easy to quarrel, if we are looking for acceptance. I would rather use this ambiguity as a source of inspiration for new ideas.

So, for this little piece, I merely want to make the point that by playing with your mobile the whole day every day until forever, you are not likely to become an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur makes and sells things. You on the mobile is a consumer.

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