/ Strategies for a discontinuous future / Selected work 2004-2009 /

2007 Markets, Networks, & Communities
2008 The Macropocalypse & Edge Competencies
2009 The Great Compression, Smart Growth & Constructive Capitalism

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Bubblegen, A User's Guide

So, I get a lot of emails these days (thanks :) . Many of them start with (I kid you not) "I love what you write!! I don't usually agree, but..."

OK. Guys, let me try and explain the point of bubblegen very, very simply.

I think a lot. Then I build models (you can see some of these in the ppts). The models forecast future outcomes. I keep notes on these forecasts here at bubblegen.

Now, the thing is: these forecasts are usually surprisingly accurate.

I called media hyperdeflation literally years ago - in 2004. I called the death of Yahoo years ago, too - in 2005. I pointed out Facebook's errors when the kool-aid drinking was in full effect. I continually point out why Google rocks everyone. Blah, blah, this isn't a scorecard - you can trawl the archives for tons more examples.

The point. Yes, you can disagree. Or call bubblegen contrarian (really? contrary to who? Jerry Yang? Mark Zuckerberg? lol). It's irrelevant to me.

But you're perhaps doing yourself a disservice, by missing the point of bubblegen entirely.

If you're taking the time to read what I write, your fundamental questions should be - even if you disagree with their logic - why are these models so consistently accurate? How do these models really work? What does that imply for next-gen strategy, advantage, and management?

Let me sharpen that.

A few years ago, I went to talk to the C-level guys at a Giant Internet Company who's now on the ropes.

We had a nice few days of chats. But they never asked those fundamental questions - and I was a kid at the time, so I didn't press them - instead, they just said: "We love what you write! We don't usually agree, but..."

And the rest - unfortunately for them - is history.

Now, to some of you, that sounds arrogant. Sorry - but nothing could be further from the truth. I put a lot (a lot) of work into sharing this stuff with you, instead of keeping it locked down. I'm simply pointing out that - as for the guys in that boardroom - perhaps a deeper investment would allow you to get more out of it.

-- umair // 12:55 PM //


Well let me be the first to say I love what you write, and I usually agree. Your writing does reflect a ton of work and it shows by producing insight that I have not found anywhere else... So keep doing ya thang, Umair! Brush them haters off ya shoulda!
// Anonymous Zack // 3:52 PM


I've been grokking Bubblegen every day for about 14 months now and I have to agree...you get out of it what you put into it. If you disagree, you should ask yourself "why?" and endeavor to learn why you're right or wrong...and I do believe there is a lot of objectivity in these topics.

I'm at the point now where I want even more details and wonky/dismal language.

Here was my diet:

- surf to BGen via Fred Wilson
- Read every single header ("Attention Economy", etc) repeatedly until understood.
- Google every term I didn't understand
- Read every Wikipedia entry about every concept I needed more fundamental knowledge about (or a refresher)
- Read every single item on the right sidebar repeatedly until fully understood.
- Read every single post of Bubblegen, ever (via the Archives)
- Get turned on to John Hagel via BGen, read as much as edgeperspectives.com and John's blog as possible
- Read "The Only Sustainable Edge"

Actually that last one is still in progress ;-)

Also note that some of the ppt slides are completely opaque (or is that "Upaque", as coined by Dick Costolo?)

It was a long slog, and I have a pretty serious finance and media background...but the return is a strong dose of self-made conviction with a tiny splash of clairvoyance...

Not bad assets to have if you're playing on the Edge.
// Blogger Ethan Bauley // 10:42 PM

here in india, painted on the back of every lorry is a sign, "sound horn", and there is a lot of noise, but people still drive like hell

this morning in every newspaper in the world are editorials calling for change, or the enactment of clearly obvious solutions to clearly obvious problems. they'll be written again tomorrow

there is a joke, maybe from groucho marx, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it

i am more amazed by your attitude than your substance, have decided you are a young person enamored by your own brilliance, somewhat skilled in communicating it, a clever user of buzzwords and concepts, but with little understanding how to create the change you so ardently call for.

hopefully i am wrong. god knows change is needed in the human structures of this planet. but analyzing the darkness is a far cry from bringing the light, which is what i am really hungry for when visiting bubblegeneration, havas media lab, or your harvard efforts.

more show than go, in short. am wondering if the attitude isn't a self-created obstacle to actual effectiveness. amusing style, states the obvious with flair, an intellectual dandy, promises more than he delivers, appeals to the easily impressed ....

crikey, dude, cut the honking and start driving
// Blogger gregory // 2:35 AM


I have been reading your blog, i am no economist so can this be explained in plain english? Or do you charge for that?
// Anonymous Anonymous // 2:32 PM

Most C-Level corp. guys tend to fail upwards thereby masking continually the real truth and circumstances about their failures. Nor do they want to hear or tend to drink anything other than their own kool-aid. When you're right, you're right. No ego there. ~william sager
// Blogger Serendipty // 3:09 PM

There's a delicious irony here. The folks that come to the site to disagree are precisely the people that need to hear the message and the analysis. They, more than anyone else, need to listen and think about these issues deeply.

I find it remarkable that you share as much as you do. Most consultants would create scarcity by hiding these posts behind a very, VERY expensive pay wall (a la Gartner and all the rest).

Perhaps that's the ultimate irony -- the core of your consulting ideas are laid out on the site, yet companies (I assume) pay you to come in and consult directly because they suspect there's a subtext, another layer of consulting only available with a fat fee. They think the ideas on the public site are the "bait," but there's a secret "switch" they can only get by hiring you.

I love it... You're "sticking it to the man" by offering to help "the man" with your ideas. Only "the man" thinks it's a trick. Delicious, indeed.
// Anonymous John Proffitt // 11:26 PM

So what's the answer? Why are the models right?
// Blogger Rick Burnes // 3:43 PM

What you write is nonsense, and those who agree rarely manage to think it through for themselves...
// Anonymous Anonymous // 7:03 PM

But the problem with your blog is you don't write often enough. You make false promises (etsy article). Then you complain about communitied out as if there is a gatekeeper. I know you won't post this, but this is for your benefit.
// Anonymous Dasher // 9:14 PM

hey umair,

can we get that etsy post sometime? :)

i'm led to believe that it could indirectly answer some questions about good next-gen. strategy...

PLUS PLUS PLUS all this Facebook negativity is getting to me, man....I really think you've beaten 'em up just about enough. Let's shut out the evil and focus on glorifying some positives, ja?

(p.s.: just a suggestion...don't get mad and all...!)
// Blogger preetam // 11:48 AM

@ Ethan : couldn't agree more. I did and do exaclty the same thing. And i'm french ;-(. It takes a lot of time (my wife hates Umair ;-)

@ Umair : ok it's time for a declaration. I think there are a lot of people here at BG, who are very smart in their industry and/or company.
Sometimes we even have big success. But BG reminds us that we can't rest on our laurels. We have to make change happens.
BG is a maieutic exercise. It's punk and elegant in the same time. And yes sometimes (often) i feel stupid when i read one of your post. Then i try to think harder.
So Umair thank you very much (with the french accent)
// Anonymous Nicolas // 6:40 PM

wow, there is a bit too much of harshness (i am guilty as charged) in the comments than you deserve.

Personally your blog is a must visit for me everyday and hence my comment amount more posts (though you are probably swamped with other things). You ask importnat questions that make me think (rather than just reporting the news from echo chamber as a lot of people do). So thank you for that.

Also these comments even the negative ones tell me people care about your blog and what you say. So keep up the great work. You have a lot of fans (even if some are harsh and demanding).
// Anonymous Dasher // 11:48 PM

Thank you Umair.

Why can't I add you to my google reader?
// Blogger Model Minority // 3:54 PM
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