Scott Hanselman

Word of Mouth means more these days...

October 7, '04 Comments [6] Posted in Ruby | Speaking
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Gordon Weakliem had an interesting comment on Malcolm Gladwell's book on Sam Ruby's blog:

...the phrase "[The Internet] dramatically speeds up the rate at which reputation spreads by word of mouth" seems to be a key.

I find this to be particularly true with the advent of blogging.  I was speaking to a users group recently and Chris Sell's name came up, and the question was posed "how did he become so famous?" Some people had read his book, some had read his blog, and others had seen him speak. But the general consensus was, via word-of-mouth, that Chris was a good enough fellow. No doubt he has been mentioned in e-mails, quoted in USENET posts, and held up as an example of a highly competent developer and clever architect.

This begs the obvious question, if there was no Internet, how long would it have taken for a Chris Sells (or Don Box, or Clemens, or Sam Ruby, or Dare Obasanjo, or anyone in an obscure technical vertical as ours) to become "well known and thought of."

I don't think it can be underestimated how quickly word-of-mouth spreads on the Internet. It would be interesting to have a race between a rumor and a virus. The rumor would be propagated only by humans, and the virus competes programmatically. I suspect it would be pretty close.


About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Thursday, October 07, 2004 9:52:37 PM UTC
I agree totally in principal, but way would a contest between word of mouth and a "well-written" virus be close.
Thursday, October 07, 2004 10:33:40 PM UTC
I can't parse the following sentence: "But the general consensus was it and that word-of-mouth around Chris was a good enough fellow." Since it seems to be the cruz of your piece, I *really* wanted to!
Thursday, October 07, 2004 11:40:34 PM UTC
Maybe it wouldn't be close out of the gates, but slow and stready win the race, right? Viruses eventually slow and stop and never reach close to 100% saturation. A rumor or word of mouth story can reach everyone and become urban legend.
Scott Hanselman
Thursday, October 07, 2004 11:41:51 PM UTC
Chris, I updated the post...I had a "speech-o" - like a typo, but with Dragon Naturally Speaking. :)
Scott Hanselman
Friday, October 08, 2004 12:00:38 AM UTC
Very true. Good point. Also, speech-o is hilarious.
Friday, October 08, 2004 2:41:25 AM UTC
So "good enough fellow" translates into "so famous?"
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.