You raise a fascinating question Brandon - Is resistance
to new ideas also a natural thing?
Important Ideas that shape our world view are called
"Memes" We have an idea immune system as well as a
biological immune system. And for the same reason. If
new world view ideas came in every week, we would live
in chaos all the time pulled from one idea to another.
This idea immune system is built not just in one
individual but is more importantly a societal construct.
The new idea has to get critical mass of acceptance in
society to become a new world view. It has to struggle
in a Darwinian sense for survival.
Ok lets get out of theory for a minute and take a simple
example. Fashion - Most younger women today are wearing
low cut jeans with the belly button exposed. This is
part of the accepted look right now much to my
enjoyment. How does a look - or meme - get accepted by
Society is itself structured on a gradient of people
starting with a very small group who are very
adventurous and will try anything new. The next group,
larger, are those that need to be cool or who have
influence over others - opinion leaders who are well
connected - who if they adopt will influence the mass
which is the mainstream. And then at the end are a small
group who never want to change.
If you are selling anything you need to understand this
gradient. You never sell something genuinely new to the
mainstream at first. They never move first on a really
new item. You may claim to be selling the new improved
Tide, but it is the same old stuff and is sold by using
a housewife who seems to live for laundry (a perfect
To sell the new - you have to get the interest of the
adventurous - many agencies now employ "cool hunters" to
see the new trends in this group. If the adventurous
wear the new look, it maybe will be taken up by an icon
such as a film start or a singer or by what is called a
connector or a maven. Connectors are those of us who
have large networks and mavens have reputations for
knowing stuff (your friend that you ask about technology
or clothes) The Book the Tipping Point by Malcolm
Gladwell is excellent about this whole process. Then the
mainstream see that this is OK and they pick it up.
The same for technology. When the DVD comes out there
are few DVDs and the machines cost $2,000. Only the
adventurous buy. More DVDs appear in the stores and the
price of the machine goes to $1,000. The trend setters
buy. More DVDs are in the shops and the price falls to
$500 and everyone has to have one.
World view ideas are more challenging to get adopted
than fashion or technology. The Tricky thing about world
view ideas is that most of don't even know we have them.
We are in the Matrix. The Matrix is a very subversive
film series which I love. The Agents can be seen as the
operative aspects of a meme immune system. Societies
punish new dangerous ideas that threaten the existing
world view. Why? Because when you change a world view
you threaten an identity. People have to give up who
they were which is like dying. This explains why the
fishermen are so pissed off - their identity and their
community is being killed off.
In medieval times you could be burnt at the stake for
such new ideas and many were. Today as a scientist you
will not get published or tenure if you have an idea
that threatens the conventional way of seeing things.
Today as a rebel in a large organization like me you
will be forced out if you talk about ideas that concern
leadership. Meme changing is a serious business that is
played for keeps.
As in the Matrix, you have to create a critical mass of
rebellion and you need leadership for world view
changing ideas. 15 years ago there was nothing in the
busines literature bout using natural models. Everything
was about engineering then - the last gasp of the
machine model. Now all the good books are talking about
using nature and networks as our guide,
These ideas can now be seen by most, like the DVDs in
the shop. After all we all use networks all the time -
the Internet, Interac and so on. Conventional businesses
are in deep trouble and the new network businesses are
seen increasingly as the winners - we are at the Tipping
Point for the meme that we are learning about in this