Real-Time Everything

Two recent developments are worth considering:

– The war in Iraq and now the unfolding of the post-war Iraq are being played out in real-time in front of the world. Every small incident is magnified through the lens of the world media and bloggers.

– An extreme example of this was the sequence of events that led up to the resignation of the editors of the New York Times in the Jason Blair reporting scandal. Bloggers and some of the mainstream media kept the story alive.

What we are seeing is the result of an “always-on” and “globally connected” world. It is a small world. What happens in one plae can be known anywhere else on earth almost instantaneously. The pressure because o this becomes immense. I can imagine the Bush team being forced to readjust strategy on a daily basis in view of the reporting that is going on. What they need is time to rebuild Iraq, and that is not easy when the world is watching you on a daily basis.

This also applies to organisations. New ideas (and think of the post-war Iraq as one) take time to mature – it is difficult to evaluate success on a daily basis. Because we are so well connected, the feedback cycles have become shorter, and this can cause an infinite, iterative cycle of adjustment, which can be quite disastrous for new, innovative ideas. They need time and in some ases isolation, and that is harder than ever to get in today’s world. See how SARS blew up – not as muh as the atual disease, but the information about the disease. A little “information isolation” may not be a bad thing, after all.

Just as I wrote this, I cam across this comment from Thomas Friedman:

Last Sunday, I offered a “brief theory of everything” about why so many people seemed upset with America. The thesis: America has begun to touch other people’s lives more than their own governments do and therefore people all over the world want to be able to vote on American power. I invited readers to e-mail me their thoughts.

I’ll never do that again.

So far I’ve received over 8,000 e-mail messages from America and all over the world.

If there was any more evidence needed of our new world, this is it!

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.