Friday, August 31, 2007

Reed’s Law and how multiple identities make the long tail just that little bit longer…

Reed’s Law or Group Forming Network Theory as Dr David P Reed* originally and rather modestly called it, is the mathematical explanation for the power of the network.

As with all great ideas it’s breathtakingly simple, easy to understand and enormously enlightening.

This paper sets out to explain what Reed’s Law describes and includes more recent understandings of the collaborative power of networks which I hope helps make sense of and gives context to the exponential.

It also suggests that the multiple complex identities we are adopting in multiple communities are not necessarily a ‘Bad Thing’. My contention is that the different modes of thought these actively encourage are to be welcomed when viewed in the context of unleashing the power of self-forming collaborative communities of interest and purpose.

(If you'd like a full copy of this 11-page paper please click here to download) You don't need to register, it won't cost you a penny. But please do take the time to tell me what you think of it.

If you'd prefer a copy with all the commas in the right places (scribd seems to remove them all), email me and I'll send it as a word doc.

email david(dot)cushman(at)emap(dot)com with 'Reed's Law Paper' in the subject line.

The increasing incidence of coincidence: Is serendipity becoming the norm?

I had a great day meeting brilliant minds in London yesterday - pretty much back-to-back.

Just to keep the coincidence theme going, I found myself free (after emap meetings) at 4pm so looked up Jonathan Macdonald - a mover and shaker at Blyk. He was free so we met.

Turned out he'd come from a meeting with three emap people. One I had seen earlier the same day, too. Another, I'm seeing on Monday. I'd met neither of them before yesterday. Nor had Jonathan.

And, after the previous day's facebook puppicide coincidence, I was thinking things were getting just a little strange.

I went on from my meet with Jonathan (who I'm glad to say has agreed to speak with emap colleagues at a mobile seminar I'm organising next month) to have curry with social apps genius Stowe Boyd.

And our wide-ranging and fun chat included some time spent on Reed's Law.
As a result I started wondering if the whole notion of being surprised by it being a 'small world' is gradually going to wash away.

If networks allow groups of shared interest to self-form (and assuming - as I'll discuss in a white paper I'm close to completing - that these are collaborative groups of purpose) then it becomes increasingly likely that the people you 'stumble upon' will also be stumbling upon the same people you are.

If I'm interested in the same things you are, the people you are interested in may well be the same people I am interested in.

We help each other expand this network of interest (our community of shared purpose, if you will).

The group itself may grow exponentially - but the view from our node may not reveal this.
In other words the likelihood of coincidence grows without us noticing it is happening.

LinkedIn reveals something of the truth of this. I have 72 contacts, 8000+ friends of friends and 865,000+ friends of their friends.

I'm guessing if I am in contact with one of my 72 first-degree contacts it's likely that coincidental same-day meetings of the kind described above will come from the 8000+ friends of friends, or at the outside, from the third-degree circle.

Sure enough, a quick check, without naming names, reveals this to be the case in the coincidence of the people Jonathan had met, referred to above.

People don't have to be on Linkedin for this to work, of course, it's just that Linkedin does offer a very graphic illustration.

Serendipity could be fast becoming the norm. As more people touch the network - the more it'll happen for more of us.

Add on Stowe's own 'Boyds Law which (forgive me if I twist this round my neck Stowe...) is about the willingness of groups to contribute their time to respond with their efforts in real time (ie drop what they're doing and help you) and in groups where all those factors are in play doesn't it become the natural state of affairs that coincidence happens?

You'll be helping each other out today - so the incidence of coincidence has to rise.

When you access the power of the network in self-forming groups of purpose - and where the group members are willing to contribute real time - it really is a small world. You are part of a global niche of shared interest.

We're taking the tools technology is giving us and restoring the cooperative and collaborative power humankind always had.

Thanks to the exponential growth Reed's Law predicts - where once you could only access the power of the small group you lived among, now you can activate this on a global scale.

The potential is truly limitless.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Facespook: The strange case of the coincidental puppicide

You couldn't make this stuff up.

One of my facebook buddies issues a series of amusing status updates about his strife with a new puppy. These culminate in a "jon is contemplating puppicide" status update.

The facebook cognisenti will know that you only get updates in your news feed from YOUR facebook friends.

So Jon couldn't have been reading updates by another of my facebook pals - Jack. That's because Jack and Jon are NOT facebook mutual friends. They don't 'know' each other so can't have been reading each other's news feeds.

Which makes this (right) just a tad bizarre:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Wisdom of Crowds: The verdict

Hello, and thanks for holding your breath... after 11 days away I am ready to reveal how many emails were in my inbox on my return - and yes it is proof of the wisdom of crowds.

Regular readers of this blog, and my facebook friends, will recall that just before I went away I asked for your estimates on how many emails would be in my inbox this morning.
I managed to confuse the issue by saying I was away for 9 days on facebook - where the guestimates were listed.

So, I've taken the liberty of calculating the average number of emails per day and adjusting the result to take account of my initial bit of misdirection.

The guesses ranged from (for nine days) 7 and 56(yes really) to 432,215 (again, yes, really).
So I removed those extremes from the calculation.

The range I was left with started at 180 and went all the way up to 1000 ( a late arrival sent as a comment on this blog while I was away).

Adjusting for the 9-day/11-day initial cock-up, I ended up with an actual figure of a spookily round 500 emails clogging my inbox.

And the crowd guess?

461. Just 39 off. A margin of error of less than 10%. This from a group of people who know very little about my average email intake!

And most impressively, this average figure is closer to the actual result than even the best single guess (Closest by a smart individual was Benedikt Hanswille Benedikt Hanswille: 550).

Just goes to show - none of us is as clever as all of us!

Update: Aug 31. In yet another spooky coincidence (see The Increasing Incidence of Coincidence) regular contributor BadgerGravling made a wild stab in the dark at how many emails I'd get, but posted it somewhere we both forgot... until now. It seems one of us is cleverer than all of us because he got it absolutely bang on: 500 on the nail!

Let's assume he's the exception that proves the rule...

Friday, August 17, 2007

The wisdom of crowds: A simple test

Like many at this time of year, I'm off for a short break. I'll be offering the very briefest of updates via the twitter feed you'll find on the left column of the blog, but that'll be pretty much it until August 28.

I've asked my FaceBook friends to guess how many emails will be in my emap inbox on my return from a nine-day break from the office.

Guesses ranged from 7 to 900.
The average - if you include the '7' guess is 379. If you discount the '7' you get 410.

None of those taking part 'knows' my daily average.

The theory goes that the actual result should be closer to the group average than the vast majority of individual guesses. You can read more about the theory here in an excerpt from The Wisdom of Crowds.

I'll share the result first thing on the 28th! (now then - no trying to skew the results please!!)

Accepting the power in crowd-sourcing is nothing new, of course. What are the world's money markets if they aren't the average of best guesses?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Google doesn't know what you are looking for

Stowe Boyd got me thinking about search.
His post points out that his /message blog appears higher than the yahoo message boards... on google's returns (wonder what happens on yahoo?).
So I tried the search term 'faster future' on google.
And ff comes in at No4 on the list. Hurrah!
Sounds good, dunnit?
But it's a bit rubbish really. I know what I'm looking for. Google doesn't. That's why the result I actually want comes out at number 4. The result I'm actually looking for should be number 1 - in fact the only result - shouldn't it?
Yeah, but google couldn't possibly know what I was thinking as I entered those search terms, could it?
Not yet - but it is working on it. And the answer - as with most things - relies on unleashing the power of networked communities.
Social search engines strive to understand, from my previous interactions, ratings, and recommendations, what I mean when I type a search term.
What a social search engine does is give context. And as we've often said before - without context there is no meaning.
So with standard old google search Stowe is right to let out a whoop of joy on appearing on page 1 of google's returns. But it's also why when I type Bike Test - and a mean motorcycle - I get a load of returns about bicycles.
I wish social search engines, such as google's custom search well - and salute their illustration of the power of networked communities of interest.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Describe the last three TV commercials you saw

Scott Karp at Publishing2.0 (see recommended blogs, left) has some interesting comments on Nielson's new engagement panel.

It finds that only a third of the 1000-strong membership can recall a TV advert they've seen - while 79% could recall the shows they'd seen.

Personally I guess that depends on the time frame. I can't remember ads I saw last night - that's because I didn't watch TV last night. I can recall the Cadbury's Smash commercials of the 70s. That's because I did watch TV then. An extreme example - but you get the point.

The issue reminds me of one of my favourite questions of the moment:

"Describe the last three TV commercials you saw".

Can you?

It's a simple illustration that the value of interruptive broadcast media models has collapsed.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Battle of Kruger Park - survival of the most adaptable

If you want an illustration of how the media world has shifted look no further than 'The Battle Of Kruger Park'.

It's a YouTube piece of user generated content which you may or may not have had forwarded to you by a friend (that's how it came to my attention in the latter part of last week).
It's wobbly, definitely not HDTV, shot by tourists - ie non-experts.
It is UGC in its purest form.
Yet already it has had more views than the first epidsode of the BBC wildlife series Planet Earth (as compared in Sunday's Observer).
The Observer recorded it at 10m views in its edition on Sunday August 12. This morning (Monday 13th) it's on 12.3m.
Planet Earth got 8.7m on BBC1.
It's not about mass media any more. The audience for beautifully shot and crafted aggregated content (a BBC documentary, for example) remains - but it is being outstripped by the audience for disaggregated content shared by communities of shared niche interest.
And when that niche interest plays out across the globe, the numbers become of the scale that the old mass media can only dream of.
It meets the need of a niche interest; the distribution network is exactly that (a distributed network - not a centre-out model); it allows the community to join in - comment on, respond with a video of their own, etc.
But it's also a sensational piece of 'entertainment'.
Quality takes many guises. Most of them have little to do with production values.

We have always, as a species, witnessed extraordinary events. Now, as a networked species, we are able to share them.

The camera/video and the means to publish and distribute what you capture with them are close to ubiquitious.

At some point in the not-too-distant it's conceivable you could see almost anywhere in the world almost anytime you wished.

Guess that'll finally nail some interesting questions... such as - do UFOs exist? Is Bigfoot more than a stuffed toy? And... is the referee right?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I am part of a community, therefore I am: Your identity is co-created

I've often discussed psychological self-determination (who the hell do you think you are?) with Communities Dominate Brands' Alan Moore.
But I can't recall posting about it. Well, today I have an excuse. Al's added a very short video to the blog he shares with co-author Tomi Ahonen. You'll find it HERE
It kind of sums up the notion quite neatly - for those who love their sound bites.

The argument goes something like this: when communities were fixed in location, your identity was created by your relationships within that fixed community. Your identity was equally fixed.

Your identity is as much created by those around you as by yourself.

In a socially-networked world, the creation of your identity becomes a process which is contributed to by more people, more often, and from very varied backgrounds.

The community you exist in shapes your identity from its perspective and from your own.
Your identity may vary from community to community.

If once you were the blacksmith's son and village blacksmith-in-waiting, now you are a huge variety of identities - depending on the community you are interacting with at any one time.
Our identities become increasingly multi-faceted.

Example - on this blog my identity is relatively serious, thoughtful. On facebook... more playful.
I'm displaying a different facet of a complex identity.

The community I feel I am part of when writing this blog joins in the construction of my serious and thoughtful persona on FasterFuture (by your comments, and I guess expectations of a certain consistency).

The community I feel part of on facebook also joins in the construction of my persona there - by the way it acts, by its response to what I do, by the tools it offers me.

The push and pull of the forces forging my identity in all elements of my life are communal. I interact with a community, therefore I am...

Each community creates a different facet of that identity - and in doing so makes a contribution to subtley reshaping the core.

Simple example: Becoming a father changed my personality. I had a new role to play and a new set of relationships - with my daughter, with my wife (now a mother, too) with other fathers, other parents etc etc. Each interaction changed me in small but important ways.
And I believe it made a change at my core.

This may be an extreme and emotionally-loaded example, but I do believe that the co-creation of facets of your personality have more than a superficial impact.

Perhaps this is why 'the edglings' that Stowe Boyd decribes, or Generation-C that Alan and Tomi describe, have a different set of wants - and aren't satisfied by the norms of mass production/media.

Through new mobile, fluid, co-creating communities they have 'found' themselves.
And they have found they want to share in, to be part of, to engage with.

Understanding which facets of personalities you seek to engage with, understanding that you are dealing with personalites created from converged facets... these are the real challenges for those marketing and/or creating social media in 2007.

Monday, August 06, 2007

White Paper Wiki: Power of the Network

The Power of the Network = The Power of We
Why Media is the new business ecology

David Cushman, August, 2007

In this paper I aim to describe and explain the emerging new ecology, why it is happening and what that means for the business of business.

I’ll discuss the things that are failing – and try to explain why.

And I’ll offer a solution.

In the spirit in which it is written, I also offer you the chance to edit this paper. In time it will become its own example of the power of we.

So you will also find it available as a wiki here ( ) where you are at liberty to add to, enhance, grow or challenge.

I will regularly copy the latest version to the location you discovered it at.

You can also download a copy here (find it also, under 'resources' in the left hand navigation):

Of course, those of you reading this here, are welcome to add your comments directly below, if you prefer.

The Church of Brands: A metaphor for control

Once brands were Churches. The good people of the parish needed our guidance. We kept telling them they did, and they had nothing to challenge that world view against.

We preached from the pulpit. There was no q&a. The flock would only read one book – ours! We owned the means of producing and dissemminating all relevant sources of information.

And because the people valued this and had faith in this, they came to us – in their droves – and very regularly. They paid our way, too.

So our Church became the place to be – the place to organise the socio-economic fabric of the community around – the marketplace, the entertainment, where we lived our lives.

More: ( )

The power of the Church was vested in its control of information. Along came Gutenburg and his pesky printing press – and centralised control of information was over.

It meant alternative messages, and alternative texts. It meant information could be created – and shared - without the need to build a huge stone edifice or a hierarchical priesthood. The power of the Church was instantly diluted. Its role changed for ever.

The result was the biggest shift in thought since writing was invented - an end to centrally created and dispersed information as the only source of knowledge.

The result was an explosion in brilliance; a new era of creativity; a fast-forward for inventiveness right across the board. Critically, the people had discovered new ways of creating trust. They learned they could have faith in the information of others – not just of the Church.

Biggest change since records began…

Well… at least since the arrival of the printing press…

The arrival of the internet – and latterly the lowering of the technical barriers of using the internet (blogs) is as big a change in information control as Gutenburg’s printing press.

Now everyone can be a publisher. And they can do it for free.

And that would be a pretty radical shift if that was all there was to it. But it’s not – not by a long, long way.

Books are a broadcast and, essentially, a mass media model.

Blogs are networks of information and, essentially, serve niche communities.

It’s not just that people can publish – they can also self-select the niche communities they wish to engage with.


In the process of one blogger linking to the work of another, new value emerges, for example:

  1. Two-way flows of information.
  2. The creation of trust, validation and reputation
  3. Decentralised, self-forming adhoc communities of interest
  4. Zero hierarchy or silo restrictions.

Reed’s Law (1) states: (1)The utility of large networks, particularly social networks, can scale exponentially with the size of the network because the number of possible sub-groups of network participants is 2 to the power of N, -N -1, where N is the number of participants. This grows much more rapidly than either the number of participants, N, or the number of possible pair connections, which follows Metcalfe's law)

so that even if the utility of groups available to be joined is very small on a per-group basis, eventually the network effect of potential group membership can dominate the overall economics of the system.

When the power of the blog meets the power of the network, rarely-predicted values emerge – conferences get organised, advertising models get engaged, new products are made, new thinking is stimulated, new peer-to-peer models of engagement derive. And as quoted in the opening chapter of Wikinomics (2), in the case of Goldcorp Inc – it transformed a $100m gold mining company into a $9bn one.

Put very simply, the arrival of a networked world means effective access to the the wisdom of crowds. None of us is as clever as all of us.

The death of mass media

Mass media has little remaining purpose. It fitted an industrialised mass production world. It served the needs of advertisers selling mass produced items.

It assumed that one size fits all.

No wonder response rates in mass media are falling – we fast-forward past the TV ads, we tune away when the radio ones play, we ‘stop seeing’ the banner ads on websites, and advertisers themselves are wobbly about print because they can’t directly measure the response.

But in a world of disaggregated content (ie each element of content, if digitised, can be served separately, to each individual) the demand for huge numbers of eyeballs (a mass audience) seeing your content in order for huge numbers of eyeballs to see adverts, is over.

100% ad efficiency is available in models such as google’s cost-per-action. I sell an item – I pay google.

The rise of the community

I've grown up with the 6pm and 10pm TV news. It's hard for me to imagine a world without it. And perhaps there will always be enough common shared interest between people for this bastion of the broad to remain.


Broadcast - and news aimed-at-all is part of that - works on the premise that you can't please all of the people all of the time. So you try to please as many as you can, for as much of the time as you are able. That's broadcast, that's mass media.
But in a world of digitised, disaggregated content, the available response to an individual's requirements means they can be pleased all of the time. The networked model the internet provides means all of the people can be pleased all of the time.
The question for media companies is: Where is the news team which can serve this long tail of individual demand?
Answer: All around us - in the form of user generated content - communities of co-creators pulled together by their shared interests.
So what we used to call news needs to be redefined:

News is:
1. Personalised, real time, community-created, shared information.
2. Best gathered at the point of inspiration (on that handy converged device - the mobile)
3. Best distributed to the point of need (and, taking advantage of the always on, always with you nature of that same converged device, that's best served by mobile, too).

This draws from the understanding that it is the community that best serves its own needs. An individual cannot get this from a disaggregated collection of digitised information. They can from a niche community of shared interest. The community emerges as the dominant force.

Why it’s about more than just content: Applications to the marketplace, services and production.

1. People want to co-create. Consider an e-commerce site. If it doesn’t allow the community of users to share their ideas about what it should sell, rate what is on sale, come together to propose improvements to what is on sale etc etc - you're locking out all the value of the network. Let members of your community pitch next year's ideas, rate them and shape them - and big up the things they love. If they score down some items - don't sell them. The community has spoken.

2. Two-way flow of communication beats the market: How do you know what your users want NEXT. The market shows you what they want now, and also what they don't want - but it can never tell you what next year's hit or miss is. Your community can - if you're engaged in a two-way flow. This is genuine 'consumer insight' based on real conversations with real people - not on generalised assumptions that "we know our market".

3. Convergence of buyer/seller/product developer/user/employee: If the employee and the user is converging in the concept of user generated content - the same can be said of communities of people trading together. eBay writes this large: The buyer and the seller converge. The buyer is also converging with the developer/designer (think BMW cars for a solid example happening now - the customer customises). This is a 3-dimensional version of a person - not a one dimensional "treat me as the customer... and only the customer" approach. In a 'shop' community environment one person can be a buyer/seller/developer/user/employee

4. Trust is communal: Trust is now created in a wiki-way. The social tools of 2.0 (eg diigo) make it ever easier for people to share what they think of a product or a supplier with their community, rapidly and in a way that is much more readily trusted by most consumers than old-style marketing messages. Sony tells you its PlayStation 3 is the dog's. The community tells them its made a heap of mistakes (1.1m views on YouTube of How to Kill a Brand 1.1m of PS3 vs Wii - apple style). How does your shop help the community decide what to trust?

All of this can be applied not only to the co-creation of content, but also to the co-creation of services – and ultimately to products.

And for those of us who thought content was king, we must understand that it is now the community which is in control. Enabling networked communities offers media companies a new path and a flourishing future.

A new definition of media brands

  • A media brand is a platform for a community with shared interests.
  • Focused on the interests of this community, we should aggregate content and offer services.
  • Services are best delivered at the point they are needed – and that is always, always mobile!

Note the reference to the 'aggregation' of content, rather than the 'creation of'. I'm not suggesting media companies shouldn’t bother with the creation of content. I am suggesting it's no longer our primary function.

Our legacy of content creation can get in the way of putting the community first. We can't resist the urge to broadcast - to select what the audience is offered and spin it to our tastes.

This often reveals itself in the way we display content. Media brands put the content they create first, tip their hats at some user-generated content (always given second billing) and actively prevent the sharing of other sources of content the community might actually prefer.

A blank sheet of paper approach would open our eyes to simple facts such as:

  • The best content for the community is welcome - be it our own, rival media brand owners', or user generated content.
  • The community should judge which content gets highest prominence - and which gets booted into touch.
  • Groups should be allowed to form which set their own parameters for what equals interesting and 'good'.

This requires some bravery on the part of the media brand owner. It means that only if our own content is good enough/a good enough fit with the community will it score the highest ratings and get top billing.

But what would you not want to learn from this?

Why We Media wins

Taking the platform/community-first approach reveals the extraordinary power that the new platform generators could generate. It is critical that the creators of those platforms (ideally, the co-creators of those platforms) understand that they are NOT in control of these platforms – that they don’t set the agenda. They must allow these platforms to be dominated by the communities they SERVE.

But givean all that, there is NO business (model) in the world of We Species we now inhabit (see Alan Moore's work at Communities Dominate Brands) (3) which does not benefit from the application of the ideas of We Media.

Not only does my definition of what a Media Brand now is (ie a platform for a community of shared interests) apply to what we think of traditional media plays, it is also equally essential for any business model - full stop.

So the ideas encapsulated in this post 'Does a straightforward transaction site need a social play?' and in this 'A new definition of media brands'. can, indeed MUST, apply to any wannabe business model in this post mass-media/industrial age.

Media companies are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the new way of doing business which is emerging from our new community dominated ecology.

In 'A new definition of media brands' I argued:

  • A media brand is a platform for a community with shared interests.
  • Focused on the interests of this community, we should aggregate content and offer services.
  • Services are best delivered at the point they are needed – and that is always, always mobile!

I'll offer this update: "Focused on the interests of this global niche community, we should provide the tools to allow the co-creation and aggregation of content, products and services."

Media companies (and I am deliberately not distinguishing between new media (eg google) and traditional media (eg emap) because I think both have advantages) are uniquely well placed to benefit from the cultural shift towards community (evidenced by social networking etc).

Those with expertise in specialist niches may well be the best positioned of all. They are best suited to activating and engaging the long tail.


1. New media companies are brilliant at connecting (socialising) us digitally, traditional media companies have big audiences to activate/reach. Traditional media companies have tons of insight to help identify the new business opportunities (by which I mean opportunities to help build and join with co-creating communities).

2. Combine this with our experience in building communities (not particularly connected ones in the case of traditional media, but communities none-the-less) and you have a position of significant advantage in the age of constantly-connected communities.

In a new economy dominated by social consumers (prosumers) the niche global community platform creators hold the cards.


Further reading

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Resources reorganised - your suggestions for more, please!

I've reorganised the 'resources' section you'll find in the left-hand navigation of this blog (a fair way down the page!).
Now the items included (downloads and specific links) are loosely categorised under the following:
  • Disruption
  • Engagement
  • Futurology
  • Mobile
  • Networks
  • Thought Leadership
  • Tools
  • Video
I hope you'll find them useful. And if you have a suggestion for something else that should be included (something you've found useful!) please share.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cultural shift: email vs blogs and wikis

Alan Moore (Communities Dominate Brands) draws our attention to an Interesting report from Information Week

It reports from the Enterprise2.0 Conference in Boston:

"Joe Schueller, who's driving P&G's adoption of new collaboration tools asks: How about e-mail, which Schueller describes as the biggest barrier to employee use of more interactive and effective tools.
"As a sender of an e-mail, I control the agenda of everyone around me," Schueller says. E-mailers decide who has permission to read a message... Blogs, in contrast, beg for comments from those most interested."

Schueller gives us a great example of how the hierarchical and centralised power and information structures of a company have come to prevail in its dominant choice of communication tools.

Email is, essentially, a broadcast tool. It's perhaps why it is losing currency with Generation C - who now show a marked preference for text (shorter and far more immediate - replicating better the dynamics of a live conversation) over email.
Their obvious preference for social media of all kinds derives from a preference for persistent conversation over the 'post-it' note of an email.

What simple and elegant examples of empowerment and emancipation of the network derive from this: Why email when you can blog? Why email when you can join a wiki? Why email when you can text? Why email when you can twitter? Why email when you can post on a Facebook wall?

Email, of course, retains some value for direct one-to-one external broadcast transmissions (ie, I need to get a post-it note on Mr X's screen at Company Y). Its value for internal groups, or social customer interaction is clearly far less.

Perhaps it is simply because of this: Email has the advantage of privacy. The flip side is that it is not the right choice for sharing, collaboration or empowering networks.

That's a lesson for internal communication - and for all those who understand there is a network of power just waiting to upgrade their ideas.

Anyone for a ban on email?

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?