The Attacker’s Dilemma

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The Bing It One challenge would have been a great tool in 1998. Unfortunately, now that Google dominates search, an improved algorithm isn’t enough to get people to switch. This is the Attacker’s Dilemma: unless you bring a major performance improvement, there is no point in directly attacking a strong incumbent in their area of strength.

The Problem With Google


How can you learn what you need to know to become an expert? It requires deep knowledge of a field, but it also requires broad knowledge of related fields. Our current technologies support deep, but not broad. We need to figure out a way to find t-shaped knowledge.

How to Improve Your Information Diet with Better Filtering

There’s so much information around these days, how can we possibly deal with it all? Many of us are overwhelmed just by our email, so when you add in everything else (TV, books, newspapers, blogs, twitter, facebook, etc.), it’s just too much. And yet, we’ve always been faced with more information than we’re capable of […]

e-Books: Another Innovation Diffusion Problem

Regular readers of this blog have probably realised that I read a fair number of books. The good news for book publishers is that I buy nearly all of these books (and the others are either legally free, or from the library). The interesting news for book publishers is that the format I use is […]

There’s No Such Thing as Information Overload

The size of your inbox or your RSS feed or your twitter stream might all argue otherwise, but there’s no such thing as information overload. Or, at least, if there is, it’s not new. Check this out: As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can […]

Bad Filtering Kills Businesses

If your business model is based on information, and whose isn’t these days, then you need to be able to aggregate, filter and connect. While reflecting on the death of Borders Books, I thought of three stories of filtering in retail. First Story: Tower Records In the mid-80s, I went in to the Tower Records […]

The Innovation Filter Bubble

Here is a must-watch video from Eli Pariser discussing some of the themes from his new book The Filter Bubble (reviewed well here by Cory Doctorow). It’s only 9 minutes, and it is well worth your time: Pariser’s main point is that the primary filters on the internet these days are algorithmic, and that these […]

Should You Only Execute Good Ideas?

The obvious answer to the question in the title is yes, right? But I’m not so sure that this answer is correct. I thought of this because of an experiment that Martijn Linssen tried in January – writing one blog post a day for the whole month. In the comments the idea came up that […]

The Problem of Filters and Silos

Here is a quote from Why The West Rules – For Now by Ian Morris – explaining some of the issues with the inter-disciplinary approach he has taken in writing the book: This courts all kinds of dangers (superficiality, disciplinary bias, and just general error). I will never have the same subtle grasp of Chinese […]

Succeed by Failing

“If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” -Thomas Watson, IBM That’s a pretty succinct way to say make a point that I was trying to get a couple of weeks ago. The key point here is that you can fail at different levels. I’ve talked before about a taxonomy of economic failure. We […]

Why New Ideas Can be Bad

Innovation is about more than just having great ideas – a point we’ve made here repeatedly. To innovate, you also have to execute ideas relentlessly. For many people, this is actually the hard part. I’m currently reading Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky, and it has some of the most sensible advice on this topic […]