More musing on the nature of communication…

February 11, 2005 | Rants and Raves | By: Mark VandeWettering

Today I was scanning my list of blogline feeds, and noticed an update to The QuotationsPage, which included this quote by Hansell B. Duckett:

What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to.

A nice quotation, and one that I agree with, but perhaps with a different spin that was intended.

To illustrate, let me present the following anecdote. I’ve taken a number of drawing classes in the past (mostly with beginners, the group that most matches my own ability) and i’ve noticed that I have an approach which is different than most. Most people sit and concentrate, and draw very slowly and precisely. They might work for a full half-hour and only fill in the edges of part of their subject matter. What they’ve drawn looks okay, but it’s clear that it will take them hours and hours to get something fully fleshed out, much less completed.

I have a completely different approach. I attack the page with careless disregard for the exact placement of any line. It isn’t that I actually want to be careless. I simply cannot tell whether any particular line looks right without drawing it in relationship to all the others. The best strategy for me is to put as much down on the sheet as I can as quickly as I can. I can’t visualize the partially completed drawing, only the completed drawing, so it makes sense to try to get a reasonable representation of the complete drawing so that I can see if it matches my vision.

The point? Well, writing is a lot like that. Podcasting is a lot like that. You could spend a great deal of time agonizing over the individual strokes, but you get far more out of just plunging in, boldly trying new ideas, smudging, erasing, and even occasionally wadding things up and throwing things away.

If you want to generate more free speech worth listening to, you can begin by simply trying to generate more free speech. Then your natural internal critic will have some ability to concretely analyze what you did say, rather than what you might want to say. A vastly more productive enterprise.

The cool thing about blogs and podcasts are that they remove any economic or practical barriers to publishing work. This makes it subject to not only your own criticism, but the criticism of others. It would be truly scary if you wrote stuff that nobody could find fault in: it probably means that whatever you are saying is meaningless or useless. Stuff worth listening to is more controversial than that.

Anyway, don’t sweat trying to say stuff which is relevant. Just say stuff. Relevance will come.

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