Welcome to Strange Attractor

“When [a] process is applied to the function

f: (z) –> a + b z exp i[k – p/(1 + |z|2)]

a strange attractor emerges … With a suitable choice of parameters all sorts of different swirled and folded patterns can be made.”

— from Strange & Complex

If you could visually represent the ebb and flow of my thoughts, you’d find a lot of swirly folded patterns emerging. The cause? Blogs – my very own strange attractors.

But blogs have a far wider effect than just making me think in swirly folded patterns, they are perturbing the business world as well. A disruptive technology that is more often than not smuggled in through the back door by evangelist employees, blogs are helping to unite previously scattered communities of interest.

Like instant messaging, blogging is gaining such a strong foothold amongst business users that by the time the management realises they have been infiltrated, they no longer have the power to switch it off. The corporate cat has to sit back and watch as the Trojan Mouse struts its stuff.

The thing about strange attractors is that they bring their own kind of beautiful order to chaos, but it is still chaos. You don’t really see the strange attractor, you just see the chaos flowing around it and know where it is.

— Joi Ito

In this blog, I want to understand the processes and functions that create these strange attractors, these swirly folded patterns. What makes for a successful blog? How do we counter high churn rates and rapid abandonment? And how do we implement blogs in business in a way that engages users and brings most benefits?

Over the coming months, I will be examining these questions as well as looking at some of the side issues, for example, what is the role of storytelling in business blogging? Are the best bloggers also the best storytellers? Or does content trump language?

What comes after Cluetrain?

Imposing command-and-control solutions to business problems – particularly around knowledge management (a jaded term if ever I heard one), e-learning (ditto) and internal communications – has been shown to be ineffectual. Instead, statements of facts are being replaced by conversations and the flow of mutable, context-sensitive information from person to person in an intimate and informal manner. The important behaviours are emergent, bottom-up, organic.

New paradigms are coming not from theorists saying ‘This is how I think you should work’, or from software companies saying ‘This is how we will make you work’, but from people bending a diverse set of tools to their will on a day-to-day basis. Danny O’Brien’s LifeHacks translated into non-geek terms.

If you have come over from my personal blog at Chocolate and Vodka, you’ll already know that random chaos is my base state – my mind tends to skip about a lot. It’s a useful trait, however, as my job here is to be the butterfly that flits from flower to flower, hopefully stirring up a storm in the process.

So, settle in, get yourself subscribed to the RSS feed, and enjoy. I still have a bit of rearranging of furniture to complete, but I hope you will bear with me whilst I decide where the sofa goes. Next to the window, perhaps?

— Suw