I have finally got around to reading ‘Stumbling on Happiness‘ by Daniel Gilbert. It’s an absolute corker (that’s a good thing) of a book. If you want the shortened 20 minute version, check out his TED talk inserted at the end of this post.

The chapter I have just finished covered a concept called ‘presentism’ – our inability to accurately look forward or backward due to the bias of being in the present, i.e. we tend to apply our current context to past and future scenarios and hence usually get them completely wrong. It’s an important reality to grasp because it has huge influence on how successfully we use business intelligence – analysis tools that are supposed to help us make better decisions for the future based on past results.

Catching up on Techmeme news this morning, I linked through to a post transcribing an interview with a soon-to-be 10-year old – Inside the mind of a 9-year-old File-Sharer. Aside from the repulsive comments that make me despair of human nature, it was amazing to see so many comments berating the standard of parenting. All this because the 10-year-old could not see a problem with freely sharing music across the Internet.

Here’s a little secret – file-sharing has been going on for decades. I’m not aware there is any correlation between a child’s decision to share files and good or bad parenting skills. And some businesses have profited by encouraging it…

Back in the early 1980s, when I was at school, there was no Internet. We just made do with cassette tapes instead. The cool crowd in the playground swapped music. The nerd crowd swapped computer games. Whilst distributing mutant camels around school, I don’t recall ever worrying about depriving shops of their profits. It was about sharing the latest game with friends and none of us had enough money to buy them all.

Would I do the same thing now, as an adult? Nope. Most of my friends went on to work in I.T., unsurprisingly. As far as I know, we all pay our taxes and pretty much behave ourselves. I don’t think we turned out so bad, despite being a bunch of 10-year old ‘file-sharers’.

…Chatting to my mom, she pointed out it all started in her day with collecting cards. You got packs of them buying sweets and, when you ended up with duplicates (inevitably), you swapped your spares with friends to try and get a complete set. It was Star Wars characters in my day. Today it’s probably Big Brother contestants…

Sharing files when you are young is about sharing stuff you collect with your friends. Some businesses have encouraged it and profited (those dastardly card-producers who made sure you ended up with lots of C3POs and not a single R2D2), others lose out. Kids grow up and their file-sharing habits change.

Back to the happiness factor:


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