Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Salience Matters

Are the things that matter to you relevant to anybody else?

If not, before you assume that they are just not smart enough to have it figured out, you might want to first ask if it has entered their radar. Maybe it has been buzzing around your territory enough that you had a chance to think through it, to see it as something that belongs rather than just a minor blip or an extraterrestial passing through.

The book Buying In (58) has this quote:

Even today, salience matters: You are in no position to desire an iPod if you have no idea what it is. The more you see something, the more familiar it becomes - not as a result of the thing changing, but as a result of your brain changing through repeated exposure.

I find this true when I am teaching. Sometimes there are ideas that I've been aware of for a while that I wonder if I should even bother talking about. I do, and watch people get an aha moment or struggle with it. I have to remind myself that I might have come across it a while ago because of my specialty, and that it hasn't hit their radar yet.

And the same happens to me. I'll find something and think, "Wow!" and the person next to me is like, "Where have you been?"

I get to watch this happen with my kids, watching as stuff hits their radars and they take notice: "Did you know that 100 times 100 is 10,000?" "Did you know that an earthworm has 8 hearts?"

Salience matters. If it is important to you, find the simplest way to communicate it to those that you believe might care. Throw it out there so that it hits their radar screens.

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