After watching the following TED talk by Clay Shirky, Institutions vs. Colaboration, his concluding sentence has really stuck with me: “If we can see it in advance and know it’s coming… we might as well get good at it.”
Shirky is talking about what he sees as the transition between the traditional organization of labour inside a company to a more collaborative framework. I don’t dispute his conclusion, but it makes me wonder whether the idea of “getting good” at something is enough in today’s world. I’m sure that it wasn’t Shirky’s intention to suggest that we should only become “good enough,” but taking it slightly out of context in this way raises some interesting questions.
With so much flying at us in today’s connected world, it is difficult to master everything. I’ve found that I’ve had to pick and choose what I want to spend time on in order to “get good enough” at it in order to not feel like I’m making a complete mess of things. Added to this is the public nature of connecting on-line, which adds to the pressure of representing yourself effectively. Gillian Edwards, in her blog post “Are You Handsome Enough to Work Here” outlines how the important perception is, even if it shouldn’t be. Edwards gives the example of a study (Busetta et. al., 2013) in which different pictures were attached to identical resumes in order to find out whether the picture had a positive or negative effect on call-backs (it did). This is just one illustration of the importance of presentation, whether used to positive or negative effect. Extrapolating this resume example into the on-line world, any information that you provide can have a detrimental effect on your chances of success.
Interaction is key when building networks. In Kadushin’s Understanding Social Networks, he states “Interaction generally leads to positive sentiments; these sentiments in turn lead to further interaction” (p. 75). So we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We must manage our profiles carefully, while still being open to any and all interaction. This leads me back to Shirky’s statement. If we are to present ourselves properly, how “good” is good enough? Also, if your visual presentation is scrutinized more than your content, on what levels must you be “good enough?”
There are differing opinions about when “good enough” is appropriate and when it isn’t. According to Jay Elliott, a former vice-president at Apple, for Steve Jobs, “‘good enough’ is never good enough” (2011). An article on Inc.com declares that “Sometimes good enough is good enough” (Paley, 2013). Meanwhile Grant Wiggins, writing on Educational Leadership, tries to determine exactly how good is good enough (2014). The ambiguity of the word “good” doesn’t lend itself specifics, so the arguments tends to go around in circles.
I’m sure that there is a very long essay sitting here in front of me. However, I don’t like my chances of trying to determine, once and for all, what “good enough” is in a blog post. Here’s what I’ve taken away from Shirky’s talk, which might point to how we can get over the challenges facing us. The traditional, institutional world, looked at us like a resume. Everything facing the scrutineers was specific and individual. Attach a picture and that seems to have been the sole criteria for inclusion. Now, with our on-line persona, we are considered in light of our connections, under a collaborative lens. Leo Urrutia just wrote a great post called “Go, Network!” in which he outlines how this collaborative model aught to work (I’m not saying that it does, yet). Eventually, we may be considered in light of our contributions to the group. Using the resume example, it will not be a picture of us, individually that will make the difference, it will be the picture of our cohort.
Edwards, G. (February 5, 2014) Are you Handsome Enough to Work Here? Retrieved from: http://gillianedwardsyyc.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/are-you-handsome-enough-to-work-here/
Elliot, J. (May 2, 2011) Steve Jobs: “Good Enough” is Never Good Enough. Sources of Insight. Retrieved from: http://sourcesofinsight.com/steve-jobs-good-enough-is-never-good-enough/
Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding social networks : Theories, concepts, and findings. New York: Oxford University Press
Paley, E. (September 2013) Sometimes Good Enough is Good Enough. Inc 5000. Retrieved from: http://www.inc.com/magazine/201309/eric-paley/no-product-can-be-perfect.html
Shirky, C. (2005) Institutions vs. Collaboration Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/sPQViNNOAkw
Urrutia, L. (February 5, 2014) Go, Network! Retrieved from: http://oleurrutia.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/go-network/
Wiggins, G. (December 2013/January 2014) How Good is Good Enough? Educational Leadership. Volume 71, Number 4. Retrieved from: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec13/vol71/num04/How-Good-Is-Good-Enough%C2%A2.aspx