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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Be like Seth.

Seth Godin is a really smart guy. He's a successful businessman, a technology innovator, and a serious thinker about stuff other than the next quarter's earnings.

That's why I read his blog every day.

I administer several Facebook pages and blogs relate to the rare book trade. Each month I generate big spreadsheets of data no one ever wants to read, like this:

- only it goes on that way for another thousand lines.

All of it is generated, free by apps I used, like Facebook, Blogger, and Twitter.

What I make of the data is the kicker. And there's been the time I couldn't see the forest for the trees, the trend for the numbers. That's my fault, not the data's.

But even on dimwit days, I learn a lot that helps me decide what to do next.

Some of my colleagues just have a general gut feeling about where things are, one that is always interesting because it is based on no data whatever. On their pages they can do as they like, but overall their audience growth rates are slower because they can't tell what is working from what isn't, and don't know what could be tried that hasn't yet.

Godin points out the fallacy of incomplete data very succinctly today:

The gut feeling method is embodied by an exchange between Alice and The Cheshire Cat:
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where—" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"—so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
George Harrison boiled it down to its core in his song, Any Road:
But if you don't know where you're going
Any road will take you there

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