Breathing our own exhaust

I've just come across this delightful expression which doesn't seem to be that widespread (at least I hadn't heard it before today, although I gather it's been around for a while), but which perfectly captures much of the dialogue within the following groups:
  • Fans of open standards
  • Fans of open source
  • Fans of Linux
  • Fans of blogging
  • Fans of experience design
  • Fans of any religion
  • Fans of any political school of thought
  • Fans of any sports team
Now don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of the first five myself. A big fan. But I frequently see people in these groups (myself included) falling into the misconception that, because the people who are listening are agreeing with us, that our points of view are gaining traction, adoption and understanding.

It's not a technology thing. It's human nature to surround yourself with like minded people. It's nice and cozy thinking that you're in the right.

So what's the point of this post? Only to say that we should be mindful of breathing our own exhaust, and perhaps our efforts and energy should be focused towards those who don't yet understand, or believe, or even know what we're on about. There are plenty of people out there who still think blogging is a passing fad, and who haven't even heard of, say, open source. We still have work to do. Tell a friend - don't be shy!

btw, I was thinking of calling this blog post "Self-congratulatory, mutual masturbatory"...I was rather pleased with that, and didn't want it to go to waste, so it finds a home here in the post itself.

And I quite like the irony of using a blog post to talk about how bloggers persuade other bloggers how great blogging is!

(Photo from trevor3999's flickrstream)


Anonymous said…
Also known as the echo chamber. Yes, there might be 100k early adopters, but they don't bloody buy anything!
FND said…
I agree that this is something we should all be aware of.

While I do think that blogging has largely made it into the mainstream already (especially when it comes to politics), the same is not true for the idea of open source.
However, successful projects like Firefox and Wikipedia* are advancing our cause, and sooner or later most people will become familiar with the underlying principles (whether consciously or not).

By the way: I know I've come across that very expression today, but I can't recall where that was - care to enlighten me (assuming our source is the same)?

* open content is closely related to open source
Martin Budden said…
This seems to be just another term for "groupthink". One of the ways of avoiding groupthink is to have ensure that there are members of the group with alternative views, which is one of the reasons I often take a contrary view.

Actually I don't think "Breathing your own exhaust" is a very accurate term - if you do breath your own exhaust you eventually lay down and die. Whereas the groups of fans you are talking about do the opposite - take an action based on a common misconception.

There I go again (taking a contrary view, that is)