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What can we learn from ‘What we can learn from David Bowie’ articles?

Unless you’ve been comatose for the last 24 hours, you will have heard about the passing of David Bowie. As soon as I heard the news, I took to Twitter looking for examples of brands trying to gain some kind of marketing capital from the public outpouring of emotion (take a bow, The London Eye Hospital, Office Shoes, and Crocs).

But of course, it’s not just brands spotting the opportunity for their fifteen seconds of fame. Oh no. Cue the onslaught of What can [insert random profession here] learn from David Bowie? LinkedIn articles and blog posts. And you didn’t disappoint. Here’s my run down of the most cringeworthy:

For business

What Business Development lessons can we learn from David Bowie? (‘Keep your mouth shut for a few days at least’, perhaps?)

What can we learn from David Bowie?

What David Bowie can teach business about being brave

A Lesson In Innovative Leadership From David Bowie (er, be innovative perchance?)

Innovation in Business – Lessons from David Bowie (androgenise your way to the top?)

For specific professions

David Bowie – What teachers can learn from the Starman (how about: ‘Teach today’s children what respect looks like’?)

What Can Indie Filmmakers Learn From David Bowie

What Investors Can Learn from David Bowie

4 Lessons for Lawyers, From the Life of David Bowie (or maybe ‘There’s always an ambulance needs chasing’)

As Project Managers What Can We Learn From David Bowie? (no idea, but it’s bound to involve critical paths)

What Public Education Could Learn From David Bowie

For everyone

What We Can Learn From David Bowie

What We Can All Learn from David Bowie

And these, I am sure, are just the start.

Added Bonus: Imperica’s Matt Muir gives us: Beeston’s Law


Is social media killing our ability to think?

According to a paper titled ‘Analytical reasoning task reveals limits of social learning in networks’ published in The Journal of the Royal Society Interface last week, social networks make us less able to think analytically.

Through a set of laboratory-based experiments, its authors – Iyad Rahwan, Dmytro Krasnoshtan, Azim Shariff and Jean-François Bonnefon – found that social learning fails to cultivate the human mind’s ability to engage analytical reasoning. According to the paper’s abstract, “When people make false intuitive conclusions and are exposed to the analytic output of their peers, they recognize and adopt this correct output. But they fail to engage analytical reasoning in similar subsequent tasks.”

This, say the authors, shows that humans exhibit an “unreflective copying bias”, limiting their learning to what their peers are saying rather than the reasoning behind it – even when the effort and skill required is minimal.

In effect, social networks are creating a generation of copycats unable to engage in analytical reasoning. Every like, share, retweet and +1, perpetuates this limiting behaviour, making us appear smart yet actually making us less so.

Yet in a world obsessed by superficiality, celebrity and fame, I doubt many will care.