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John, I *really* enjoyed this post, and I will equally enjoy re-reading it along with the amazing conversation /posts you generated. I am in the midst of a strategic and intellectual exercise that is Paretian/Gaussian in nature, around what we used to call the "Black Swan Event." We are looking for big changes that while unexpected, impact an entire ecosystem and change the rules forever-even generating revisionist history or assumptions. We (perhaps arrogantly) want to be a trigger of one of those Black Swan events, or at least be among the first to see one happening and thus maneuver ourselves to take optimum advantage of it. You know, jump into the dry river bed before the storm, and all that. But Black Swan events no longer occur (as in the past) in isolation or outside of the system. So they're not so easy to see, or even interpret. There is an argument that they only occur in the concert of multiple (and non-collaborating) actors in a system. In fact, we expect that they will occur in-sync and as a part of the *Omniscient* or organic changes of a system... Meaning that we can no longer "try" to make one happen. Kind of like the folly of "purposefully designing" a viral video or a new genre of popular music. So while dramatic and perhaps cataclysmic or creatively destructive, they will still likely come from within or adjacent to one of our ecosystem spheres... because *everything* is now "connected" as never before. Yet we don't have a way to map those connections because they form and are broken and form back so easily and dynamically. The idea is that these *connections* are less expensive, and that as a result, things occur *and* morph/extend in near-real-time across the "real-time Web" (which has become a buzzword around here). So in a business sense, and in a sociological context we see these "ripples" of an event repeated, and then creating additional concentric ripple-waves of their own, it often becomes one big chaotic hair-ball to interpret cause-and-effect. No matter how good your math is. Borrowing another metaphor, it is also seeming to become more like the Schrödinger's Cat/Copenhagen shift of perspective. In an advertising condition, discrete outcomes are measured but not *known* until later, as there are secondary-dependent actions and outcomes that define the "success" of the ad transaction. Is the cat dead or alive? Is the ad successful or not? Depends on when you look, and if you look. And how you look. We see connections that are accidental, incidental and unintentional actually impacting and changing the nature of the ecosystem. Gmail goes down because someone forgot to update a server. Twitter fails because of the usage shift, realtime communications shift to this discussion. People create alternative communications conduits (like a living organism creates new blood vessels to the heart when others get clogged up), and thus the system is permanently altered. Or is it? Sorry about the trivial and banal example with Gmail and Twitter. But the point I'm struggling with, and which excites me about your post, and the subsequent brilliant discussion (others' not mine) is that we have apparently underestimated the evolutionary or quantum shifts happening faster due to connections and realtime feedback cycles being shortened. We are looking at ordinary consumer and advertiser behavior around ads and the social graph. Simply by *introducing* a set of ad control feedback (passive and active) mechanisms we see that *other* incidental and accidental connections and feedback results begin to change the entire nature of the interaction, especially scattered in these infinite, concentric wavelets or droplets. So we see wonderful chaos that we now get to sort out in a Paretian/Gaussian shift to figure out if there is any cause-and-effect (or meaning) or if it is munging up (another technical term) because the very nature of the mass activity is shifting organically... as in Copenhagen. In the end, we won't know until we know, and then if it is a Black Swan, we'll likely back-into a justification of the shift (as writers of history) and use the luxury of hindsight as our "proof." I think we'd like to figure out how to get 5% better than that and see if we can trend-spot something this big and get in front of it. Gaussian/Paretian, Schrödinger's cat/Copenhagen Ok enough. This is fun, but it's hurting my brain on a sunny California Autumn afternoon to be inside and thinking so hard. Keep up the great conversation! I'll try to keep up. Cheers, Matt Weeks