Saturday, January 17, 2009


Holiday reading has included Seth Godin's the dip, the extraordinary benefits of knowing when to quit (and when to stick). Not because my job needs this and not because of the PhD either, but it's still a worthwhile read on reviewing where one is at as well as a parallel area of interest in studying change.
I am still finding it a bit hard despite reading the book to know what's a dip vs a cul de sac except when looking back retrospectively. How will i know when persevering is going to do it or not? Its a bit like caving (not that i do this) but the ideas a bit like not throwing good money (or one's time) after bad. There's lost opportunities that might also be considered.
What i have found is some gems relevant to my study of change vis a vis Bruno Latour. While Seth Godin does not mention any philosophers there is a resonance in here. He describes the valley of death where 'the dip is so long and so deep that the nascent competition can't catch up.' Its a bit like cj talking of the habits and ruts made where the walls then get so high that doing anything else becomes harder and harder, you get out of the rut for a moment but are likely to fall back in. Its an easier path where its well trodden. And one that can be deliberately made in shaping th epath so getting out of it is harder still and its here that Seth Godin refers to microsoft where the building of relationships and establishing so many stds makes it essentially inconceivable that word or excell could be challenged. A similar analogy is also provided with ipod anditunes and apple. Instead of resting on laurels a whole raft of essential relationships are formed to make the "network"

Seth Godin describes how its easy to be seduced by the new (just as with the bright and shiny, just coz its new doesn't mean its good) and i like his description of how this leads to addictions and short little spans of attention but he also points out that many people are not led by the new but by the tried and true. Both can be problematic.

And thats where i find myself wondering if I'm in a dip or a cul de sac, again.
I'm left knowing, retrospectively, what I've got myself into. Nonetheless a few more clues provide me a bit more hope in not working myself into corners.

These are timeless themes, when is it useful to change, and when is it not. How might change be made, and what contributes to its fluidity or to its stickiness...And then there is also the effects not only of the dip on the people dipping, but the effects of the people dipping, on the dip... aggressive acts may not only make the people worse, but also the dip.
A very actor-network way of thinking about change.

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