Bullseye!Image by Gare and Kitty via Flickr

Ever seem to bump into a phrase repeatedly?

For the past three years I keep hearing about “the edge becoming the middle” and every time I do it’s in a new context, with a similar yet different meaning.

The first time I heard this phrase was in a client meeting.  The client, a true innovator, was reflecting on how their needs, which were leading edge at the time, would ultimately become mainstream (the middle).

The same concept came up a year later in a product development conversation with a software company.  In their world successful experiments (at the edge) become core software functions.

I never thought about this phrase applying to relationships or events until lunch at O’Reilly Tools of Change this week.

Looking around the table, three of the four people that were with me are “at the edge” of my normal routine.  They’re people with whom I don’t usually interact on a daily or even weekly basis.

Yet during the conference they were at the middle of my experience.  We sat together in several sessions, compared notes, tweeted back and forth, and discussed what we were hearing.

At conferences the edge becomes the middle.

Perhaps that’s one reason we should still go to conferences – even though we operate in such a well connected world online.

It’s also an interesting property of social networking.  Again, three of the four people at lunch were people I may never have met had we not first established a relationship online (through blogs,Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).

On social networks the edge becomes the middle.

The only difference seems to be, when we’re thinking about relationships and events, the edge doesn’t necessarily become the middle and stay there. They mostly go back to the edge again until the next time.

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