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February 29, 2004

Ah yes, we *have* been here before...

A lovely piece from Clay Shirky's NEC newsletter on the Dean campaign.

the hard thing to explain is not how the Dean campaign blew such a huge lead, but rather why we ever thought that lead actually existed. Dean’s campaign didn’t just fail, it dissolved on contact with reality.

As I read this piece, and also as I thought about Tom Steinberg's ConConUK speech on the same subject I've realised that a lot of the hype mechanisms, knee-jerk excitements, emphasis on money raised rather than what return you'll get have a very close correlation with the dotcom boom and bust. (And, as I'm sure Matt Locke will point out, many telecoms and engineering booms and busts before that.)

Why do we let ourselves get so overexcited about this? Did we get duped into signing up to Orkut without reading the terms and conditions because we were desperate for something better than friendster and everyone was saying it was better? Or because it actually *was* better than friendster?

I suppose this is the lesson - when we consider the implication of each new piece of software or technology that might change our lives by some amount yet to be determined - we're older and wiser, but not old and wise. They say that salesmen sell dreams not reality - perhaps we need to stop selling to ourselves.

As Clay says: We must take care not to re-write history so that we ‘always knew’ what was going to happen.

Posted by Tom Dolan at February 29, 2004 11:52 AM

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