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May 09, 2005

I was right

Seth Godin admits he is a "massive egomaniac".

Of course this should be obvious since his name gets top-billing on his graphic. You will note that he has conveniently removed his hair so you can more easily see that big brain of his.

But what can I say? I think he is right in the specific and in the general. But with a condition...

When I was studying architecture one of the recurring rituals was having critiques of your assignment. The general process is to prepare your design including drawings, models or whatever else is necessary to demonstrate your conception. Then on the appointed day a panel is assembled (usually made of instructors and invited guests). Each person then presents their design and the guests critique it, sometimes praising what is not there, sometimes damning it, other times giving constructive criticism. It really just depends on the mood or temperament of the juror.

Another aspect of this process that bears explanation is that it usually occurs after a period of extreme activity, activity which does not include sleep and may involve consumption of a great deal of caffinated beverages. The end result of which is a fragile grip on reality by those being critiqued. Emotions were quite often close to the surface.

So what does this have to do with ego? Well, in the case that your project is loved it should be obvious that the flames of ego are flamed white hot. What is not obvious at first is that when the project is not loved, or even despised a remarkably a similar thing happens. As a protection tactic people dissociate their self from their work. It doesn't happen immediately, but it is clear that advanced students are crying far less often than those in their first year. People also learn that the criticism may in fact be bogus and that their own ideas are just as valid as anyone's.

The end result is a group of people who are secure in their own opinions. They may not fall into the classical definition of the egomanic who thinks they are great, but they may fit into a definition where an egomaniac is one who thinks everyone else is inferior or more charitably (and perhaps more accurately) where an egomanic is one who makes no connection between the quality of one's work and the quality of one's self.

So here is where it gets tied back together. Blogging is similar to standing up for one of those reviews. There are no doubt those who do it to show themselves (and I think in the case of Seth's blog - to brand themselves) but there are others who could care less. People who are secure enough that they do not use the blog to feed their ego, but instead keep things entirely separate. It is these people I think that Seth misses in his characterization.

Posted by Jack at May 9, 2005 12:22 PM

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