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by: Bernard Teo






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Bernard Teo
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Wed 12 May 2004

A Weblog as a form of Chautauqua

Category : Commentary/chautauqua.txt

I'm finding that there is a close parallel between the mode of discourse made possible by a weblog, and the mechanism used by Robert Pirsig to link together the events and ideas he described in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

If you don't mind, look at the discussion on this page that I've found :

"I would like to use the time to talk in some depth about things that seem important. What is in mind is a sort of Chautauqua that's the only name that I can think of for it like the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America, [...] an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer. ( Pirsig, p.17)

From the discussion that I linked to earlier : "The narrator sticks to this expression as well as to the lecture-form, the most defining element of the original Chautauquas, throughout the novel. He uses the term Chautauqua whenever he wants to present notions of a more theoretical kind: motorcycle maintenance, philosophy, technology, 20th century life, etc. These Chautauquas gain importance for the narrator on a very personal level, because the lectures become more specifically linked to the narrator's life. Still, he never abandons pointing out general implications, trying to come to conclusions at the end of the Chautauquas (although sometimes the end of one and the beginning of another are blurred). A wide range of topics is discussed, which seemingly also inspired the narrator to come up with the term chautauqua."

Note : "a wide range of topics is discussed ... these Chautauquas gain importance for the narrator on a very personal level, because the lectures become more specifically linked to the narrator's life ... never abandons pointing out general implications, trying to come to conclusions at the end of the Chautauquas (although sometimes the end of one and the beginning of another are blurred)."

That's what a weblog is like, isn't it. You can use it to lay out an idea that is very difficult to get across at one go. Especially when you're still trying to untangle the strands of your own thoughts. The weblog gives you the time to ruminate about a position that you've taken, find other situations from which you can draw implications that will either strengthen or weaken your convictions, and ultimately move you closer to better knowledge or a greater truth. If that ever happens, it doesn't matter if nobody else reads it because you've rendered a service to yourself.

Posted at 11:48AM UTC | permalink

Patents and the Penguin

Category : Commentary/patentsPenguin.txt

This is a very interesting article, "Patents and the Penguin".

On the one hand, one can see how fast MySQL has grown in terms of market penetration, using the Open Source model in parallel with an ability to sell profitable services alongside the free downloads. But MySQL AB has, sort of, hedged its bets with a dual licensing model, so they have a lot of flexibility to play their cards no matter which way the game turns.

And nobody knows how all these will pan out. The issues about intellectual property rights and patents are complex, as the article above clearly shows.

But it's still important for any business to try to understand them.

You can choose to work in a business, as a self-employed person. Or to work on a business, as a business owner. But the second is the nicer, more evolved and preferred position to be in. That's because you've established the procedures, methods, and systems so that the business will run without your needing to be there. And it makes it that much more attractive, as a going concern, for other investors to want to buy into because it doesn't matter much to them, then, if you do get run over by a truck.

But before you say, watch out Hawaii (or substitute your dream retirement enclave), here I come, you've got to make sure that you really do own the procedures, methods and systems, because that's what the investors are buying. That's why intellectual property issues are so important to understand and track. Maybe, more so because there doesn't seem to be that many lawyers around who understand a thing at all.

Posted at 10:22AM UTC | permalink

Features, Functions, and Benefits

Category : Commentary/featuresFunctionsBenefits.txt

Zig Ziglar, in The Ultimate Handbook for the Complete Sales Professional, makes a very clear distinction between features, functions, and benefits, adding that you can only sell on benefits - because everyone tunes into WII-FM (what's in it for me!).

That's why I have a lot of problems with the Mac-BMW comparisons. It's a nice analogy but it has zero effectiveness.

Expensive cars are but one of the many ways people have at their disposal to signal an elevated status (whether real or imagined). We can talk all we want about the features of a BMW, or an Audi (like the author of the following article did when comparing the Mac to an Audi), as the case may be. But the chief benefit that an expensive car confer its owner is status.

Now, when do you ever hear of people buying expensive computers to gain instant status recognition, and arouse envy among the neighbours? Okay, geeks may understand the phrase, "So, how much is your mind worth?", and some Mac users may feel that they're using the BMW of computing. But the argument that we can get ordinary people to plunk their money down for the most expensive computers, just so they can feel rich, is inane, isn't it? I don't have to work very hard to prove that it doesn't work.

There's a saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome. So why not try selling it a different way? You've got to sell on benefits and you've got to think about what those benefits are. And there are real benefits to using a Mac. But you've got to think really differently, for a change.

Posted at 10:17AM UTC | permalink

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