While I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go as far as Ballmer in this endeavor, it turns out that no one ever got a terminal illness from claim chowder. While it might be frightening to imagine, it’s not so bad in practice. Try it.
Have an opinion. Defend it. It will make you smarter.
I truly hope it makes some opinionated people smarter, because they sure don’t sound smarter.
Godin references John Gruber’s (with some credit going to the guys at Panic) “claim chowder” label – where writers make predictions that turn out to be catastrophically wrong. Godin’s points is that fear of being wrong shouldn’t prevent you from making predictions.
But “having an opinion” isn’t good enough. Everyone can have an opinion, and anyone can throw it up on the web and defend it. But who wants to listen to just anyone with an opinion?
It’s the wisdom to post good opinions that makes the difference.
Wisdom comes from experience and research and paying your dues, along with some keen insight on whatever you’re predicting. Without insight or wisdom, you’re just another loud mouth who’s proved wrong after a few months.
Gruber does this with Apple products because his track record points to his particular wisdom and insight. He also has inside information that lend greater weight to his opinions. Plus Gruber thinks about these things deeper than just about anyone, and that gives him the vision to see baffoons when they appear. Sure, he’s wrong sometimes. But his record speaks for itself.
These yahoos that spout off opinions about products, sight-unseen? Defend those opinions all you want, you still look like a yahoo – unless, of course, being wrong comes as an exception and not a rule.
It’s not enough to have an opinion and defend it. You have to have brains enough to look at the situation and come up with a reasoned, insightful opinion based on experience and knowledge. You have to be right most of the time. Then you’re worth reading.
I’m much more careful at making predictions these days, and I think that’s a good thing. If I don’t have anything but an opinion to offer, I’m not a compelling read. I’m just a blowhard.