The Importance Of Living On The Edge (Or The Unimportance Of Lie Detector Tests, Federal Judges, Not Being Charged With A Crime)

The center collapses.

That’s part of the age we live in.


When Jon Benet was found dead 10 years ago it caused a media frenzy. It was a case we all thought we understood.

The center collapses in a family and a little girl ends up dead.

But maybe that’s not what happened.

Maybe the center of our media collapsed.

The people we trusted painted the story wrong destroying a family (twice) in the process.

And where were the true answers be found?


On the edges.

The police worked on a tip done by a professor who did his own research on the case.

Despite thousands of journalist all over the world, the answer wasn’t found in the center.

No, the center collapsed.

The answer was found on the edges.

No matter what part of any major institutions around today you choose, you won’t find the answers in it. In fact the deeper you go inside the less likely you’ll find anything of real value.

There’s no blame. It’s just the way of 20th Century institutions in the 21st Century universe.

What’s valuable today is different.

Fred Wilson showed an example of this when he talked about using old ways to partner with companies like Flickr or Google.

The center collapses in noise and the real answers are found on the edges.

Umair calls what companies need today edge competencies.

But not just companies need them.

We all do.

Here’s the deal.

Everyone knows the same things.

Google’s value isn’t it’s search engine.

Flickr’s value isn’t in uploading photos.

Just like your value isn’t in what you do.

It’s in who you are.

I had a lunch meeting with Fred and Evan who own TagWorld. I was expecting bitching and moaning about MySpace and it’s ilk.

But those guys don’t even see them.

They aren’t even building a social network, per se. They have other plans. (I promised not to tell but it’s different than you expect.)

They realize the value is not in the center.

Which brings us back to Jon Benet.

Everyone thought that someone in the family was guilty because that’s what the center told us.

Despite the fact that the family passed lie detector tests.

Despite the fact that the police never charged them with anything.

Despite what a Federal Judge decided.

We assumed the media center knew what it was talking about.

And the scary thing that they could be wrong again.

Get used to it.

Explore posts in the same categories: blog networks, Edge, Evan Rifkin, flickr, Fred Krueger, Fred Wilson, google, Jon-Benet, new media, old media, Patricia Ramsey, TagWorld, Umair, YaChin You, you

17 Comments on “The Importance Of Living On The Edge (Or The Unimportance Of Lie Detector Tests, Federal Judges, Not Being Charged With A Crime)”


  1. you shouldn’t hotlink, Char. ;)

  2. D. Johnston Says:

    Yeah, what is that a picture of?

  3. chartreuse Says:

    jeez, I suck!
    fixed…:)

  4. TerryC Says:

    The Benet case is an interesting one.
    The reason the media convicted them is because of the beauty pageant pictures and because they were rich and white.
    The media has a follow me effect. One person talks about it and then everyone else does.
    Just like blogs!

  5. Brian Says:

    Beautiful post Char…

    But TerryC is right.

    Shifting the power of media to individuals won’t eliminate the pile-on effect.

    It will intensify it.

    And here’s the kicker… the teacher caught in Thailand may well be crazy and innocent.

    Oh wait… but that was your point. :)

  6. chartreuse Says:

    The guy they have now is probably the wrong guy. But who knows.

    I think my real point was that value is found on the edges of things and not in institutions. Jon Benet Ramsey was just an example.

    I was buying some memory for a digital camera a few weeks ago and the kid screwed up the purchase. 3 employees later they still couldn’t figure out how to fix the cash register. Finally the lady behind me in line reached over and fixed it.

    She said she was in a hurry.

    That is edge compentency. :)

    Nice to see you again Brian. Thought I was going to have to sue you to get your attention!


  7. wow – my favorite post ever.

    That is generally the way I invest. I tune out the noise and naysayers. Everytime I don’t I get crushed or scared.

    Do your homework and move forward otherwise you are stuck and dead

  8. Brian Says:

    I gotcha Char… but the JBR story is still such a powerful anology.

    One more “case solved” story in this case that turns out to be bullshit is just another institutional failure.

    But check the blogs… they’re piling on too.

    Now, if one smart blogger knew the *real*story, and that story actually rose to the top like a xml tip on Digg…

    Now *that* would be edge compentancy. And that’s what we all should be working to build.

  9. chartreuse Says:

    Brian,
    I am stealing your last post and not giving you credit! Just thought I’ld let you know.

    The problem with Digg is the whole masses thing. That’s betting on crowds instead of individuals. Now if Digg was to let the poster put up a picture of themselves next to each post then I suddenly know who to trust and will be looking for their submissions.

    But that’s a whole other post.

    Edge competencies, that we normal people need to have (and what kids have already figured out) is the ability to weed out the noise from the signals.

    We all need to be like Howard!

  10. Brian Says:

    In other words, editing. How old school! :)

  11. Liz Strauss Says:

    I have too many reasons for loving this post. Why is it we believe just because everyone believes? No matter who he was or wasn’t the world hated Ken Star when no one had ever heard him say word one — everything they knew was what the press said about him. EW. I can’t let the press think for me. It hurts to consider. . . . It hurts my head and my fingers. I’d rather be on the edge.

  12. David Krug Says:

    I still have to fucking agree with Aaron. What’s up with your hotlinking. Shit I’m guilty to sometimes. But still you do it way to much. Fucking upload some damn pics. What if flickr dies? Or these webhosts you link to?

  13. AndrewE Says:

    @ David Krug – you are a hyper-ventillating amoeba sir, and I’ve called my friends the CIA just to hear the sound of silence.

    @Chartreuse – I’m tired of people misprounouncing your name, has the whole world gone crazy, or am I the only one who remembers high school French classes…I enjoyed this post.

    @ This @ symbol, which looks like a sore nipple and gets on my tit – when humanity hears the heavy boots of the meritocratic judgement army marching into town, it’s time to run for the hills.

  14. David Krug Says:

    @ Andrew- I did that really badass comment drunk. Hyper Ventilating Amoeba, shit that’s a badass tagline or maybe even a new line of t-shirts.

    @ This @ symbol- I tend to agree with Andrew on this one. But seriously lets all get a life its just theft of pictures, and ideas. It not like its genocide. Jeez.

    @ Myself – This hangover sucks.

  15. Mr Angry Says:

    How many times do we hear the newly famous say how they’re freaked out at the lies they read about themselves in the media because they always used to believe media stories about other celebrities. And if we all get to be microcelebrities on line do we all get to look forward to a circle of lies told about us?


  16. [...] Chartreuse has some interesting ideas about living on the edge: it’s not what’s the obvious that’s important, but what is at the edge. Chartreuse says:  Google’s value isn’t it’s search engine. Flickr’s value isn’t in uploading photos. Just like your value isn’t in what you do It’s in who you are. [...]


  17. [...] It’s no surprise that people are let down that it was all a lie. And while there’s no doubt that Mr. Karr is a disturbed individual, the signs that he wasn’t the killer were there from the start. [...]


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