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10/27/2008
07:09 AM
Neil Raden
Neil Raden
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Cocktail Conversation

I don't hear this expression much anymore, but my wife used to use it to describe the kind of chatter one can make about a subject, and seem knowledgeable, but possess only a very superficial grasp of it... Between conferences, blogs and webinars, I'm hearing a lot of cocktail conversation lately.

I don't hear this expression much anymore, but my wife used to use it all the time to describe the kind of chatter one can make about a subject, and seem knowledgeable, but possess only a very superficial grasp of it. In fact, she used to describe her entire academic career as having merely prepared her for cocktail conversation. I don't feel that way. I think my education, even three decades hence, was an excellent preparation for what followed, but then, I didn't study anthropology. LOLBetween conferences, blogs and webinars, I think I'm hearing a lot of cocktail conversation lately. So I tried an experiment. I spent a day or two boning up on an area of our business I knew virtually nothing about. I learned the buzzwords, acquainted myself with the names of the recognized gurus in the field, read on most active arguments and learned the names of the vendors and their provenance. Then I sought out some experts and jumped in.

I don't think I was detected as a poser. I think it is not only possible, it's common, to be regarded as an expert in this business when you can only make cocktail conversations. It's like the old Woody Allen joke: Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. And those who can't teach, teach gym.

I think there are lots of analysts, journalists and even self-appointed gurus who really don't have the deep understanding of their topics because they never lived there. I'm now a little suspicious of them. And if you hear me talking about data center virtualization, be VERY suspicious.I don't hear this expression much anymore, but my wife used to use it to describe the kind of chatter one can make about a subject, and seem knowledgeable, but possess only a very superficial grasp of it... Between conferences, blogs and webinars, I'm hearing a lot of cocktail conversation lately.

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