Where Do Wikipedia, Glenn Greenwald, Influency, and Windows XP Intersect?

This Influency thing is a big deal. It lives in a strange area right between really complicated and really simple, and is comprised of so many things that getting Influency under control can seem like the kind of task you don’t want to even think about. Best to leave Influency to the professionals, right? Hey, kids, don’t try to achieve Influency at home.

Today, we’re going to show you both how much and how little go into making Influency happen, and we’ll do it by grouping together—get ready—Windows XP Security issues and how they effect business, journalist-of-the-moment Glenn Greewald, and Wikipedia.

Seriously. While the things I’m about to throw out might not seem to be related in a normal way, that’s kind of the point; Influency is about identifying things that don’t quite relate, drawing connections between them, and then making those connections matter.

I’ve written extensively on journalism and the changes that are overtaking the business of journalism (aside: business of journalism seemed like an oxymoron to many journalists not too long ago, just as business of medicine seemed like one to doctors, and business of education seemed like a mismatch of terms to academics). Last week, a back-and-forth between Glen Greenwald, a guy with a long and solid career in journalism who’s most recently been known as a columnist for the UK-based Guardian but is now about to helm a very well-funded journalism start-up, and The New York Times’ Bill Keller found its way to the pages of The Old Grey Lady. And as in Influency, reading both Keller and Greenwald’s position felt like an exercise in “who thinks they are saying what, anyway?” Keller was trying to make a case for traditional journalism being the way things keep working, Greenwald was taking the opposite tact, and both sounded at times like they were arguing the others’ position.

Also last week, a report suggesting that Microsoft was contemplating the delay of their discontinuation of support for Windows XP surfaced, here. It’s an intriguing thought; while Microsoft is within their rights to nail shut the 12-years-old-and-three-generations-behind operating system’s coffin and gave the world plenty of notice that they intended to do so, the shear number of businesses that have simply refused to upgrade might delay Windows XP’s death—not because Microsoft cares, of course, but because they don’t want the very large headache that the backlash of them simply doing what they said they would do would create for them.

Then, there’s this: a couple of computer scientists have built software that can analyze Wikipedia articles to evaluate their value and accuracy. With Wikipedia having become “the encyclopedia” by default, its accuracy matters, and while I’m one of the people who was happy with Wikipedia’s accuracy pretty early on in the process Wikipedia’s recent decline in volunteer editorial efforts is becoming a concern.

All of which seems odd, doesn’t it? That last part especially is a turn-the-world-of-common-sense-on-its-head thing. I trusted Wikipedia when most people assumed it to be just so much garbage because it had been built by tens or hundreds of thousands of people with no experience, and now that it’s established Wikipedia has actually become less trustworthy.

Bill Keller’s journalism-is-a-profession-practiced-by-the-objective argument is getting harder to defend, too. And the Microsoft/Windows XP thing? As I said above, there’s no altruism or compassion in Microsoft’s back-pedaling on the issue; this is about the headache that Redmond would need to contend with if millions of businesses simply refused to upgrade, because security, already pretty badly hamstrung by the architecture and age of Windows XP, will evaporate completely once Microsoft stops supplying patches.

All of this is about and links together at the subject of trust. Can you trust your on-line information providers? Can you trust journalists? Can you trust your computer? And that’s Influency. When people trust you, you hold tremendous sway over the way they experience their environment and your place in it. And that’s why you absolutely must get your Influency efforts together; trust, always important, is getting pretty close to being the only thing that matters in business, marketing, and pretty much every other aspect of your ability to succeed.

And you trust me on this, right?

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