Glass Canada

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Editorial: December 2011

Any idea is a good idea


December 15, 2011
By Patrick Flannery

Knowing you are right is only half the battle. In business, an idea is only as good as the number of people who agree with it.

Knowing you are right is only half the battle. In business, an idea is only as good as the number of people who agree with it.

Ever hear of a meme? It is an idea that gets spread around and persists over time just because something about it makes it likely to be spread and to persist. Maybe the idea is useful and persists because people who grasp it gain some benefit from it, like the idea that the pointy part of the fork goes into the food first. Maybe the idea is somehow entertaining in its own right, like the “Where’s the beef?” catchphrase in that old Wendy’s commercial. Or maybe the idea, even if it is a bad one, simply holds some weird fascination for people that causes them to focus on it and spread it to others even if the consequences are very undesirable. The music of Celine Dion springs to mind.

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The glass industry, specifically the architectural glass industry, is at this moment under threat from a meme. That meme is the idea that glass construction is inferior construction.

Disseminators of this meme say that walls with windows and walls made of glass are less energy efficient and less durable than other kinds of walls.

The rightness or wrongness of this idea is almost beside the point. James Lischkoff and Brian Burton show rather conclusively in our cover story that the idea is wrong, but most people who buy condos will never read that article. Instead, they will become infected by the meme, which is being spread by no less virulent a carrier than the CBC, and begin to suffer the symptom, which is unwarranted nervousness about glass construction. Cultured in the rich agar of green hysteria, it is always possible that the meme will procreate out of control and overwhelm the intellectual body of Canadian condominium buyers, killing the market for curtain wall construction and consigning its predators, the readers of this magazine, to oblivion.

To stop the spread of disease, you need a vaccine, which is really just the disease itself in another, less dangerous form. Memes are no different. To stop their spread you need another meme, another idea, that is equally persistent and acts somehow to neutralize the effect of the first meme. Specifically, we must inject the idea that glass construction is good, energy efficient and durable into the hearts and minds of people in this country.

This will sound like an arcane task to people who make their living building things with their hands. However, there are companies that provide just this kind of medicine. They are called public relations agencies. As in any industry, there are good ones and bad ones and you tend to get what you pay for. I think it would be a good idea for leaders in the glass industry to pool their resources and pay for one of the good agencies to administer a little antibiotic in the areas hardest hit by this meme.


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