This just in: facts have an expiry date

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Facts change all the time. Smoking has gone from doctor recommended to deadly. We used to think that Earth was the centre of the universe and that Pluto was a planet. For decades, we were convinced that the brontosaurus was a real dinosaur. In short, what we know about the world is constantly changing.

That’s not me talking. That’s Samuel Arbesman talking in his remarkable book titled The Half-Life of Facts. Why do so many people, including those in the business community, not seem to be willing to accept the notion that the world is constantly changing? To answer that dilemma, in the above book Samuel offers the following: that “you only learn information that adheres to your worldview.” But must it be so? Luckily, no. To counter some possible shortcomings of your own worldview, Samuel suggests this simple remedy:

By not relying on our own memories, we become more likely to be up-to-date in our facts, because the newest knowledge is more likely to be online than in our own heads.

My 2¢:
Things change. An average business person? Not so much. For example, your typical static website has been dead for a long time now. Yet, to this day, countless business people don’t seem to be willing to accept that fact. But don’t take my word for it, just look around. You’ll see a lot of people who are experiencing various forms of marketing jet lag.

A lot of people still don’t get the idea that today, the digital property that’s the most relevant is the one that causes the most interaction (e.g. a blog, or a Facebook fan page.) Even when they decide to rejuvenate their online identity, it’s not unusual to hear people ask questions such as, “how many pages are we going to have?” They don’t get that we are conceptually beyond “pages.”

Countless people don’t seem to be willing to accept the notion that all facts, including those in business, have a shelf-life. Don’t be one of them.