Social Mood Conference  |  Socionomics Foundation

Orthodoxy is like very powerful glue: A small bit in the right place will keep things from falling apart. But if you apply too much — or put it in the wrong place — then the glue actually becomes destructive.

In turn, too much orthodoxy can ruin and waste ideas, opportunities, time, even people.

The peril of excessive orthodoxy came strongly to mind when I learned the story of the first flat-panel television, which was created in…

…1958.

Its inventor was an electrical engineer named William Ross Aiken, who developed the 2-5/8 inch tube in the mid 1950s. It worked. A handful of other engineers reviewed the invention and technology behind it. They knew it worked (this included folks at Warner Brothers, Kaiser, General Electric, and the U.S. Navy).

The 500-pound gorilla in the TV market at the time — RCA — saw it too. RCA almost licensed the flat-panel invention, but decided not to. The company feared the possibility of having to tell shareholders why it had invested millions of dollars in a lesser tube.

After that, no other manufacturer would take on the project. They all believed that if necessary, RCA would spend them into the ground to keep control of the market.

So, I figure this episode of corporate orthodoxy cost as much as 40 years of developments in display technologies. I have no idea of how to calculate the dollar cost. As for consumers, well, for all I know a 65-inch LED screen with 1080p (or an even higher) resolution would sell today for $149.

No, I’m not into conspiracies. This is not a story about keeping secrets. It’s about a corporate institution that over-protected a current product — namely RCA and its established television tube design.

The study of social mood — and related fields like behavioral finance and pattern recognition in markets — were long frowned upon and even called heretical by institutions that enforce orthodoxy.

We’re used to it. Yet we respond by lighting the proverbial candle. Meaning: We do things like hold the annual Socionomics Summit (April 5 in Atlanta). I can promise you that it will be a “safe zone” for the dissemination of intelligent and unorthodox research and ideas.

I invite you to join me there. Follow this link for more information.