The place to think…

Steven Johnson’s video, “Where do good ideas come from?” is remarkably simplistic description of the criteria you need in order to create a space that cultures innovation. He also dispels the myth of great overnight ideas. Great ideas takes time to mature and develop. He describes great ideas forming in “slow hunches,” or incomplete ideas, that come together over long periods of time. He mentions that Tim Berners Lee, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, took ten years to come up with his masterful idea. Timing is a key factor, but Johnson focused mainly on the space or environment where innovation takes place. He describes a space where “slow hunches” collide against each other is where innovation happens. A place that facilitates the exchange of ideas, so that they can be transformed/combined to form the brilliant ideas that impact our lives. He illustrates that by making a place where “hunches” are constantly colliding into each other fosters innovation and furthers knowledge.

This common space where ideas can be easily shared and compared against other ideas is today’s modern web. This ability to exchange ideas has altered the way we live and communicate. Johnson states that connectivity promotes innovation. “The chance favors the connected mind.”

But this also places an importance on cultivating your personal social capital. Our social capital is more important to us than ever before because more and more of our lives is becoming digital. Our social capital is, at times, the first and only representation of ourselves. It is odd to think that we are not representing ourselves, but we are through the relationships we choose to cultivate and through our reputations. The Wikipedia definition of reputation is “Reputation of a social entity is an opinion about that entity, typically a result of social evaluation on a set of criteria.” Social evaluation has never been easier because of the affordances of today’s web. This key component shifts more significance towards your history, background, and social relationships.

Reputations are a cliché thought when discussed in a traditional sense. I mean by traditional sense of what it meant to a high school student who just wanted to be cool enough to not be bullied. But now, I think our reputation is an even more vital part to our identity. Social media has changed how we meet people. Before, we knew nothing about the person we were about to meet if they were a stranger. We might have seen a picture or heard a kind (unkind) word about the person. With today’s powerful and convenient technology, we can sit in a coffee shop and basically find out a large majority of a stranger’s personal information. Since this has become a norm, our reputation takes the lead in our identity in many cases. Although this has been true for quite some time now, a large part of our headline news is about a celebrity or political leader damaging their online reputation. In November, President Obama delivered one of his annual Thanksgiving speeches and his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, accompanied him to the event. Obviously, any event that involves the President is a global event, so that is just amplified on social media. Apparently, a comment or two was made about the President’s daughters during this event on Facebook.

Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for Republican Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, had said via a Facebook post that Obama’s daughters, Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, needed to show “a little class,” complaining they appeared to look uninterested last week during an appearance with their father at a White House pre-Thanksgiving ceremony at which he had “pardoned” a turkey.

The article (link at bottom) continues to describe the outburst the comments caused and that she “resigned” the next day. This an extreme example, but demonstrates the significance of our social interactions online that affect our social capital and reputation.