13 Laws to help you navigate a digital world

There are laws and then there are laws.  Some laws have a governing authority to enforce them.  Other laws, not in the books, are up to the individual to enforce.  Those are the laws I’m talking about here.  They’ve risen out of shared experience, observations, trends.  They are very much a snapshot of what is happening today.  Awareness and dealing effectively with these laws is your responsibility, especially if your business relies on the Internet, social media, and good relationships with others.

Here’s 13 laws I’ve pulled together; applicable to anyone leading a digital life (like you).  Some of these laws have been popular for ages; e.g., before the world exploded into digital.  Others I’ve culled from current bloggers and books.  The categories are arbitrary and mine.  I had fun compiling the list.  Hope you enjoy it… and some of the laws are new to you!

Relationship Laws

1. Law of Attraction: Like attracts like; e.g., act positively in relationships and you will draw in others with a bent to positivism.

2. Law of replication; Like begets like.  Your behaviours and habits may very well be replicated in those you have influence over.  Important if you’re in a leadership role (term law of replication comes from Michael Hyatt)

3. Law of reciprocity: Your influence is built upon making others successful.  Pay it forward.

4. Law of Harvest: Be like a farmer.  Beware of shortcuts.  You’ll reap what you sow.  (the term Law of Harvest comes from Mike Sansone)

Time, Opportunity and (Un) Certainty Laws

5. Law of diminishing returns: The longer you wait to seize the opportunity the smaller the return typically is, or the opportunity may completely evaporate altogether!

6. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for completion.  A cousin to the diminishing returns law.  (Parkinson’s Law comes from Northcote Parkinson, a British civil servant in the 1950s)

7. Law of accelerating returns: An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense intuitive linear view. (Ray Kurzweil in the The Singularity is Near)

8. Law of life cycles: Our addiction to novelty, the latest and greatest, enables companies to change their product in increasingly shorter cycles (think Apple).  (this law is described in What’s Yours is Mine: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption)

9. Moore’s Law:  Everything gets better and better; i.e., the unit of computer processing power halves in price every two years.

10. Yhprum’s law: In violation of Moore’s Law, this law states that sometimes systems that should not work, work nevertheless; e.g., how does eBay, a system that shuttles vast quantities of used goods among distant strangers, work so well? (Yhprum’s Law is a term coined by Richard Zeckhauser, a Harvard professor)

Influence Laws


11. Power Law: The few influence the many.  Based on statistical property that a larger share of population rests within the tail of a probability distribution, especially when it comes to buying patterns.  Aka long tail or Pareto Principle (80/20 rule).

12. Craig’s Law: Get out of the way. If you make a great platform that people really want to use, then the worst thing you could do is to put yourself in the middle, getting in the way of what people want to do with it.  (term is in honor of Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist.  Quote is by Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do).

13. Law of the internet: Either you do something I can’t do myself (or get from someone else), or I pay you less than you’d like.  (Seth Godin’s law, which he also affectionately refers to as the one who isn’t easily replaced)

Your voice?

What strikes you about these laws?

What would you add to the list? If you have another law in mind, send me a comment or note with an appropriate link, and let’s expand this list, together.

Photo credit: Ed Yourdon on Flickr

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  1. Very well-chosen, practical laws – thank you Ben.

    The Law of Three choices: give three choices (in products, what team could do next, etc.) and it is easier for them to make a choice. Fewer and some feel forced or/and that there’s not sufficient options, More and people feel overwhelmed and are less likely to choose, and if they do they are less satisfied with their choice. Ideas from The Paradox of Choice

  2. I like that law Kare. Practical too. I’m thinking I should check out the Paradox of Choice. thanks.

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