Reach and that leap faith which is required

There's quite a few times when I have been suggesting or recommending a way forward, and the other person has looked at me with a blank stare. Its not because words coming out of my mouth are not reconisable but the concept is a step too far. I have a few good examples of this but one which comes to mind which other people may hit home with a lot of people is the net phenomena.

I remember explaining to people that I would buy real stuff online.

See this is the thing, it was back in 1996 when realistically most people had only heard of logging on the super information highway (yeah I remember those words too). The concept of buying online goods which would be delivered to you, was a step too far for quite a few people. Honestly, I dont actually remember when Tesco started delivering grocery'sexplanation online but it seemed quite logical to myself and started using the service as soon as I left my parents home in 1999.

I dont know if the leap of faith is correct, as it seems to have many religious views attached to it. Maybe mini mind shift might be a better explanation?

Another example which is bang up to date and may divide a few people. AV Content online can be delivered cheaply without a advertising or subscription model. Some people will agree and some will disagree. If you disagree, you may be familiar with concepts like P2P, TVRSS, IPTV, etc.. But have not actually fully experienced there effects. Hey a small percentage of you may say the statement was actually hogwash and what actually is cheaply anyway? And I would say, at this stage, it requires a leap of faith or a mini mind shift to see the potential which is only just around the corner.

The biggest leap of faith at the moment which I keep having to explain is Reach. When talking about blog and RSS spaces and always say something about the niche audiences, the longtail and always reach. When you use full RSS syndication and/or P2P distribution, website metrics break down and you have to rely on Reach instead. Theres a issue with Reach, it requires a leap of faith as theres no actual metric for reach (yet).
Its very painful because the arguments away from Website metrics are very clever and make sense when you look at the current landscape of the web 2.0. I mean why would you ever syndicate full text content in RSS unless you believed in (or at least thought about) Reach or cared so less about the content?

I'm just reading Malcolm Gladwell's Blink now and theres something which is somewhat related on page 176.

We like market research because it provides certainty – a score, a prediction;if someone asks us why we made the decision we did, we can point to a number. But the truth is that for the most important decisions, there can be no certainty.

Another leap of faith, The public aspect of Social software can actually beneficial to you and everyone using the software. Its all about communities and I mean a leap of faith beyond Social networking sites and online forums. I'm talking about shared data with benefits yourself and everyone else. Why else do people use Flickr, Del.icio.us, Reader2, etc? Its napsteration effect, which you need to have faith in. By each person serving there own greeds, they also serve the community effect.

Personally like Reach this is so easy to understand, I wonder why it requires any leap of faith at all. But that's the nature of these things. One persons step is another persons marathon

While still thinking about leaps of faith, heres a couple other things which require that same mind shift at the moment. Creative Commons, Free Culture and Open Source. Like reach you need to buy into it somewhat before it starts making sense. Open source is quite lucky because it has quite a vocal voice and has many good examples to prove it actually works. Creative commons is well on the way, while Free Culture as defined by Lessig and others still requires a certain leap of faith.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.