As Justin and I prepare this web site for our July 1 launch and I port over all of the old columns from Japan Inc. I am reminded about an issue that has been haunting my online and real life style. Most of the people who read my Japan Inc. column liked it because it presented a unique view, but several people commented that it was just a bunch of name dropping. I've also heard that people inside of a Japanese government agency call me a name dropper.
Name dropping is an interesting thing. I suppose it is annoying when someone is doing it for some sort of gain such as better treatment or just plain bragging. My Japanese elders often tell me that a true Japanese does not disclose one's contacts and that it is not cultured to talk about "who you know."
The problem is, I think one of the most interesting things about me is who I know. When I meet other people like me, we usually do a quick brain dump of who we know and try to zoom in on a few mutual friends. More like name "dumping." This is a sort of standard protocol for me. For instance, I recently met David Smith we instantly bonded through our mutual relationship with Michael Backes and our similar view on how crazy and wonderful he was. ;-)
I'm also fascinated by interesting people. I have my views about other people and am very interested in other peoples' views about people. Trading list of "people you should definitely meet" is a very important part of initiating friends into my network. So I can't imaging not talking about all of the interesting people I meet.
Anyway, I guess I am trying justify myself. Maybe I shouldn't worry. Actually, I've never had anyone I truely respected be bothered by my "name dropping" so maybe it is an attribute of people who are concerned by their own lack of friends. I guess I don't need to respect of people who confuse me with the petty businessman who waves the name card of a politician when dealing with bureaucrats...