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Information is bliss

Matt Morgan • May 30, 2013 at 3:00 PM

The expression we usually use is that it is ignorance that confers this blessing. Let's challenge that notion with the paradise that lays just beyond the informed horizon.

This past week I finished reading three excellent graphic novels that I would recommend to any of you. They are written and illustrated by Guy Delisle and are records of his trips to Burma, North Korea, and China (I am still working on the one he made about his stay in Jerusalem). While hearing those names may make parts of your mind or body clench up, he does a great job at conveying not just the obvious aspects about those places, but about those who actually live there as a part of those societies. In his book "Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China," Guy does a great job at summarizing today's point.

According to Dante's Inferno, this is the descent to Hell:

Paradise->Purgatorio->Vestibule->River Acheron->Limbo->River Styx->City of Satan->Malebolge->Inferno

"Same thing, transposed to China:"

USA->Hong Kong->Shenzhen Special Economic Zone->Big Cities (Canton, Beijing, Shanghai)->The Countryside

Going down the list you see that the less information is made available to the people of a country, the worse off conditions tend to be, which is why China and even Burma (to a degree) are golden cities on hills compared to North Korea who has a complete lock-down of just about every function of life and tidbit of info. So how do these points get translated from a message about global socio-economic and humanitarian causes to private business practice in our local area?

The freedom, dissemination, and collection of information.

In each of these blogs I try to bring up resources you can use to better yourself, your business, or its concept. You absolutely must keep yourself informed else you fall from the Paradise of success into the bleak, tunnel-visioned road to the Inferno. You must keep yourself up to date on your industry's trends. You must also be aware of what is going on nationally, statewide, or even in your own community. Micromanaging even more, it is advised that you take steps to get to know your customer base. Collecting that information, even for international companies, is huge. Microsoft Xbox's developers probably enjoy knowing basic demographics about who uses their Live service as they examine subscription information, play time, etc.

The U.S. government also tends to enjoy knowing statistics of the population based on Census and tax records. You? Well, aside from filling out info/notification/subscription cards so you can keep your customers in the know, you can also use tools like website analyzers or Facebook's "Insights" service available to business accounts. For example, as of the time of this writing, I can tell you that of those who like my store:

930 people "Like" me, and they have a total of 298,246 friends. 71.1 percent of my audience is male with 49.3 percent (both male and female) being between 18 and 24. Hmmm, what can I do with this info? Create ads for one, include this in business reports and propositions for two, or use it as proof that when it comes to a demographic like that I may know what I am talking about as I can cater to their trends and lifestyles. This also allows me to not waste money in advertising and purchasing products that may fall outside "my realm." I am soaring on the wings of upward-pointed thumbs who are showing me the light!

Through the lens of other cultures that stimulate your emotions, we can learn a literally valuable lesson in the power of information. Refining emotion to thought, we can become successfully focused on the mental tasks ahead of us. Reading about the experiences of others can teach us a lot about what to - and not to - do.

You also learn things like dog apparently isn't too bad a taste, but a bit gamey like mutton. Huh...

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