Sunday, February 19, 2006

Naked Blinking

I'm almost done reading Naked Conversations: How blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers. It's been one of the most interesting business-related technology books I have ever read. The best comparison, albeit not technology related, is Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The power of thinking without thinking.

Why? Both are easy to read. You don't need to know a specialized vocabulary.

Both tell stories...lots and lots of stories. Both range widely in their coverage of examples. Gladwell moves readily, for instance, between symphonies and ER units in hospitals. Scoble and Israel move just as readily between NASA and fired flight attendants.

More importantly, both leave the reader pondering lessons learned. Much is left unsaid, kind of an implicit tease in which the reader feels that the authors want the reader to take the next steps in the development of the thesis.

Taking the next step requires conversations, sometimes with the authors of the books themselves. This is where my experience of these two books is most significant.

I blogged about Malcom Gladwell's book twice in February 2005. I then attended a University of Waterloo alumni event to hear Gladwell in person. Right after the event, I emailed Gladwell inviting him to check out my review. Within a day, he had done so and responded by via email.

Again, one year later, circumstances in my personal life being complicated by my unwanted journey battling cancer, I mentioned in my personal blog that I was reading Scoble and Israel's book. Israel linked to my site, using my blog entry as an opportunity to share a story about a good friend of his who had battled cancer, all within one day of my original entry. I, of course, reciprocated.

In the blink of an eye I had engaged in conversations with authors of published books, something which not only enhanced my experience of their publications, but ensured my willingness to engage the subject even further.

The world is a smaller place. The communications tools and technologies available to us enable extremely useful conversations with friends, colleagues, acquaintances, customers, suppliers, partners, even published authors.

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