Sunday, October 24, 2010

Being a Node Isn't Easy

"You must be a node, a connector!" That's the way the story goes, if you can be a connector in
the networked economy your future will be set. So, how do you make that happen? Let's start with your first hurdle.

I'll begin with a story. Last weekend I took a long bike ride to Virginia. It was a bit of a death-march as our route was mapped via Google, and somewhere in there Google lacked some of the necessary details to get us there safely, i.e. you can't ride skinny tired bikes on gravel roads. So, we had a few ride-arounds that added a number of miles to our journey. We don't really know how far we rode as not a single one of us had a functioning odometer (which is another story). We estimated that our little ride was somewhere around 120 miles. Could have been 150 for all we know or maybe even 200. Did I mention it was a death march?

Somewhere around mile ninty we stopped at a country store to replenish our fluids and take on some calories. One of my colleagues, who was bonking badly, purchased a lot of stuff at the store. One of the items she acquired was something called Goody's Powder. I was starting to get a cold last Sunday, and at that moment of the ride I was not feeling very chipper. When she asked, "You want some?" I attempted to answer in the affirmative without appearing too desperate. She proceeded to hand me this folded up piece of wax paper that contained the aforementioned mystery powder. This is where I blew it. I asked, "What am I supposed to do with this?" She demonstrated for me the most macho of the consumption techniques, The Tough Guy:
This is how The King does it. Very simple. Open it, fold, dump on your tongue and swallow. Then, very casually continue whatever you were doing.
Down the hatch it went, but I guess I didn't do so well on the "casually continue..." part as the next words out of her mouth were, "You're not from around here are you?" Outed!

And there-in lies your first challenge in transitioning to a networked mode of working. Online networks aren't any different than non-online-networks. Network members can spot an interloper in a heartbeat. If you want to be a node in a network then you've got to get to know the network's culture, you must contribute, you must live it. You have to be the ball... You have to care enough to know the difference between The Tough Guy, and The Dump and Chase. That kind of deep understanding takes a great deal of time, and you don't scale. Your capacity to understand multiple networks is limited-- actually it's impossible. That will be the subject of my next post.


Unknown said...

Kevin, there's hope for your being accepted as an NC node.... you didn't try to snort the powder.

Kevin Gamble said...

After being here 19 years I'm starting to be accepted as an edgling. I think it is my fondness for over-cooked vegetables, and love of NASCAR.