Experience by itself is not the most important part of learning.  If it were, America would be making the best automobiles, and Japan would be way behind.  What is more important than experience? Answer: theory.

Consciously, or unconsciously, we filter experience through a theory.  Usually, the theory is not even part of a person’s awareness as they act.  Lurking in the background, it is the context of holding the experience.

In 1950 what was made in Japan was generally considered inferior quality. That was the year that Dr. W. Edwards Deming went to Japan with a new theory on how to build quality products and services.  Five years later Japan was known for its quality.  Why?  Japan had embraced an entirely different theory on how to build quality.  They had embraced Dr. Deming’s quality theory. See: Quality managment.

In fact, US News & World Report cover story listed the HISTORY’S NINE HIDDEN TURNING POINTS of all history.  The only businessperson on that list was Deming.  He was credited with leading the Japanese quality and business miracle.  Deming became (and still is) a national hero in Japan – the annual Deming Prize remains one of Japan’s highest business honors.

The point: when you change your theory, you see your experience in a different context.  When you do this, your “experience” reveals different dimensions.  What was before invisible becomes visible.

With this new visibility, new questions emerge.  Following these new questions often leads to new insights when then leads to different actions.  The new actions (strategy) produces new outcomes, many of which are more predictable than using the old theory.

What does all this mean?.. By changing the theory and a more predictable positive outcome often emerges. Here are steps in changing theory. Here are steps in changing theory.

Traditional data collection is based upon data being randomly collected.  However, the Internet has never been random.  It is based upon the preferential attachment of individuals.

Yes, networks have existed ever since people cooperated.  That being said the word “network” was scarcely used before the late nineteenth century.  Now it is used, both as a noun and a verb, ubiquitously.   Most of us are being told that we live in a networked world.

When one studies networks, they need to be studied using a different theory than randomness.  The new theory is called preferential attachment.

There is a completely different curve when the data is not random.  This different curve is called a “power curve” or “power law.”

Whether it is “fans of movie star” or your network, both are power curves.  In my main course, we do the network game the results are always a power curve.  In that simulation, you select the top five individuals you want on your team.  This process is “preferential attachment.”

This “power curve” is exhibited even in the frequency of words we use (Zipf’s law). It doesn’t matter what language is used it always exhibits a power curve.  This is differentiator is critical in properly studying data.

Just like when you study “change,” you first ask: “Is it structural or is it cyclical.”  When you have data, the first question is: “Is it random or is it preferential data.”  Once you make that distinction a whole different series of questions are asked.  Why?.. because it represents a completely different data phenomena.

In a power curve (which all networks are) if you focus on the top 15% and enroll the vast majority of that subset, almost all of the rest of the network follows.

This doesn’t work if the data has been randomly collected.

By focusing on the top 15% of the identified power curve network, social media is VERY effective (i.e., predictable).  However, if one attempts to treat preferential data as random data, the results are not predictable.  In most cases, data evaluation jumps between random and preferential data without making the proper distinctions.  This can be (and usually is) very confusing.  Attached is the “power curve analysis of a movie I studied,

There is preferential attachment with those who go to a specific movie, and there is preferential attachment in anything written (you choose words preferentially).  Whenever there is preferential attachment “power curves” are happening.  Richard Klass: The power curve.

The first question you must ask when studying data: is it collected randomly or is it the result of preferential attachment. Depending on your answer, a whole series of different questions are used.




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Attorney, real estate developer, businessman, educator, editor, scholar, inventor, negotiator, author, visionary and public speaker. Marshall holds a BA degree from Union College of New York: The Cohen H. Kerr award for the highest academic average at Boston University; Boston University’s Utopia Award and the Maud Folsom Foundation Award which grants an annual scholarship for as long as an individual attends school or until age thirty-five.
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