Becoming Perceptive · Learning · Notes · Writing


Yesterday I heard part of a the TED Radio Hour and was intrigued by the ideas discussed, “How Things Spread.” While I was tickled by the recordings of laughter in “Why is Laughter Contagious?” presented by Sophie Scott, I was intrigued by a word in Seth Godin’s “What Makes an Idea Go Viral?”—-“remarkable.”

In the show, Seth explained that in addition to meaning “Neat!” “remarkable means ‘worth making a remark about’ and that is the essence of where idea diffusion is going.” The host summarizes “that ideas spread faster when the people that you like talk about them.” Seth says ideas spread when it’s “giving people a tool that they can share and benefit from.”

“Marketing used to make average products for average people. That’s what mass marketing is.  They would ignore the geeks and, God-forbid, the  laggards. It was all about going for the center. I don’t think we go for that strategy anymore. Instead you have to find a group that really desperately cares about what it is you have to say; talk to them. They have what I call ‘otaku‘” [an obsession]. He goes on to explain that to spread an idea/product/etc without a constituency with an otaku is essentially impossible. People only tell their friends about things they care or are obsessed about.

(I was concerned of course that he says that the people who get others to spread their ideas “win,” but in fairness he is interested in this topic because he is a marketeer and that sounds like creating-desire-in-people-to-buy-things-they-don’t-really-want-or-need. So that’s me. Still, I too am interested in understanding why some ideas spread and others do not. And, again in fairness, he does talk about ideas and concepts as well as products.)

He goes on to compare the spread of ideas with the spread of disease. Patterns in epidemiology are similar for ideas. And even with all of this, having something go viral is not easy: “We are better in the rearview mirror than we are predicting.”

I am interested in these ideas especially around introducing the Salon Postisme Suite of Fictions to readers, not as commodity books but as fictions with strands of ideas worthy of reflection/consideration. More on that soon…


New Year Resolve

New Year Resolve
by May Sarton

The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.

Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.

Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.

For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

“New Year Resolve” by May Sarton, from Collected Poems 1930-1993. © W.W. Norton & Co., 1993.  From The Writers Almanac, December 30, 2012.


Free Write topic…”A song you love”

In the early morning just as the sky loses its blackness, a bird sings outside my window.  It is a beautiful song that has many verses.  Characterized by trills, slides and confusing dynamics, the singer’s throaty gusto awakens me.  He seems to be ushering the day in with true gladness of heart.  Not stopping for the light he goes on and on.  I confess that often I doze off in mid-song, missing a portion of his glorious performance.  But he doesn’t seem to mind as my presence is not essential to his desire to sing.  He sings because…because why?  I don’t know.  Is it because of his genetics such that he just can’t help himself?  Is it a stimulus-reaction so that as the darkness recedes, he finds his beak opening and the notes pouring out like Pavlov’s dog salivating when the bell sounded?  Or is it love of the day, love of the chance to do all that the new day offers again that he find no better way to express?  It’s difficult not to anthropomorphize.

I wish that I could express my gifts with such exuberance indifferent to audience, indifferent to all but the determination to perform the act.

For whom does the bird sing?  For himself?  For his mate?  For other birds?  For God?  For me?  I don’t know what passes through his little bird brain in those wee hours of the morning, but I am indeed grateful for every note as his is a song I love.