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November 19, 2006

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Robert Bly is my "hero" so I began reading this cautiously until I realized you were talking about the "other" Robert Bly. Not the noted American poet - Robert Bly.

Could you change your tag so it includes the Other's middle initial, Robert W Bly?

thanks!

British scientist Lord Kelvin said: "When you can measure something in numbers, you know something about it." Direct marketers almost always know their marketing ROI. Bloggers usually don't.

Hi Bob,

Thanks for weighing in. I hope you've already forgiven the terminology and are joining in the playful spirit of the debate.

Now, with all due respect to Lord Kelvin, I doubt even he would cling too tightly to the quote you offer, since he lived into the era of Einstein's "thought experiments."

The quote gets at the root of the problem, though, because you seem to want to treat it's converse as true: that if we can't measure something in numbers we don't know anything about it.

Or worse, if we don't yet know how to measure something, we should act as if it does not exist.

That, my friend, is utter nonsense.

Scientists from Gallileo to Einstein to Hawking have gone about creating hypotheses and tests, eventually leading to theories and even laws, about things they first felt and then "knew" must exist, years before they could measure them.

Take gravity. Long before we could describe it accurately or measure something, humans built buildings with cantilevers and invented keystone arches. Would it have been "smart, tough-minded business" to operate as if gravity did not exist, just because we had not yet figured out how to measure it in numbers?

History has favored those who acted on what they could observe happening, without waiting for someone else to wrap a scientific explanation and measurement tools around it.

Should we try to figure out ways to identify and measure the many positive impacts of blogging and social media?

Sure.

Should we wait until after someone solves the measurment problem before we use these new communication tools?

What do you think? (The existence of your blog hints at your answer, Bob.)

Tom

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