Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Weak signal

Finnish docent in Future research Mika Mannermaa has characterized our society as a "John Wayne-society". John Wayne, like the ordinary citizens of today, was outstanding at what he did and the prize tag of his expertice wasn't cheap. Anyhows, he's got a new book out, called "Out of Weak Signals, a Strong Future". Apparently, he feels that we're all surrounded by these weak signals, i.e. an idea or trend that will affect what business we do,and how. This trend is usually hard to perceive and is spotted by experts in the field.

There's an idea that I come across more and more often and perhaps that could be seen as a weak signal. The prediction is that the expert will be replaced by a generalist who knows a little bit of everything, instead of knowing everything in one tiny area. The idea is that people who have a broad perspective and a general knowledge of many things will do a lot better in life than experts concentrating on only one thing. (One reference in Swedish here.)


Ton said...

Hi Susanne,

interesting notion, weak signals. I associate it with weak ties (which is sort of your social horizon), which might be the place to spot weak signals. And it makes me think of a blogpost I wrote, on how every signal starts out as noise. And that you must expose yourself to as much information noise as possible, to be able to spot the relevant patterns quickly, your weak signals.

The blogpost is here: http://www.zylstra.org/blog/archives/001229.html

Paeonia said...

Hi Ton,
impressive article! I agree with you, blogs do contain lots of information that is potentially signals. And I love looking out for them in blogs (and relating back to your post, I skim about half of the texts and posts, I don't actually read all of them).

Collin said...

Interesting idea. I think Gregory Ulmer says something similar in Heuretics: the printing press opened up scriptures beyond the priesthood, and he argues that the net does the same for knowledge/expertise (beyond the academy?). Interestingly, the other places I've seen the idea (of expertise as a pattern-seeking generalism) are all fictional: Gibson's Pattern Recognition (of course), Willis's Bellwether, Shakar's The Savage Girl, etc.