a his & hers weblog of worlds apart
A few years ago I got a new blackberry. Like many people, I was pretty uncomfortable with the standard signature “sent from my blackberry device on the Bell network”, and the sort of brand fanship this line inferred. So I looked up how to change it and decided upon a simple “Sent on the fly” sign-off – just so people were aware of the reasoning behind my brief, sometimes misspelled responses.
Since that time, one-by-one, it’s amazed me how many friends have adopted this exact tagline. Really there’s no other explanation than the HERD effect at its finest. It’s not that it’s a great line (I’ve seen many other fun alternates out there), but rather just our social nature in action.
Here are a few excerpts from Mark Earl’s HERD studies that overlap nicely with this blog:
Herd began as a research bucket for the hidden truths* and fundamentally social nature of our curious species and the fundamentally social context that shapes our behaviour. *(not so hidden, but more ignored really)
The big moral is this: because we are social creatures who cannot escape the world of others in to which we are born [or indeed turn off our own tendency to copy what’s going on around us] much of what we call new or innovative is really just a miscopy of what’s gone before – this despite all our efforts at being creative, original and innovative.
Random Drift is the geneticists’ term for the kind of change we observe in a population’s genes which is driven by a series of neutral [i.e. small accidental] changes [one following another], rather than as the result of important changes in the environment which encouraged the selection of a particular gene over another.
“Sent on the fly” is obviously not all that original or innovative, but just a great example of how little things spread.
*Note: I wanted to post this ‘on the fly’, but unfortunately I still have a blackberry so that wasn’t possible (or not very easy, at least). It’s probably time I get an iPhone. But if I do, you can be sure my messages won’t reveal it.