what we lose when when we fear prolixity and live brevity

Nobody wants to be ‘that guy’ who goes on and on.  Besides, one-liners are cool.

So if you have a lot to say, maybe you should blog (kettle? black?)? Of course, that’s why I do – right now I’m channelling Seth Godin.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

Yet sometimes extreme brevity is uncool. Like:

  1. More haste, less speed.
    1. Oh boy. A work colleague sends you an email. It’s 3 words. It might be ambiguous, so at the risk of looking a bit silly, you reply asking: Did you mean x or y? they reply, tersely, in what appears to be confirmation. So you then say: So what we are saying is the blah blah is x and not y because of [reason]. You don’t need me to tell you how much longer that took.
    2. And multitasking is a myth. Every time the inbox pings, your concentration on that important thing pings away. Hey.
  2.  Some things can’t be explained in a text, or a one-line email.
    1. Like love, or systems.
    2. Or why?  why usually needs space, which, increasingly, we ‘don’t have time for’.

Call me Captain Prolixity, for reasons that you don’t have time for.

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“Work is about a daily search for meaning as well as daily bread…”

As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.

(I still respect him, but I’m no longer a fan of Apple’s products. Not since MacOS 10.4 in 2005. Just so you know I’m not a blinkered fanboy.)

Now, here’s one reason why I rate Jobs, which you can file under: “Insanely Great!” his most famous catchphrase.

When the Mac was produced in 1984, he insisted, at significant extra cost, in having the names of all the engineers who designed it engraved INSIDE the case, where almost nobody would ever see those names. I was lucky enough to see them, because I once watched an engineer remove the casing. (Oh yes, circuit boards can be beautiful, why are most of them ugly?)

You can also file under: respect for the dignity of the work of other human beings.

Which leads me on to my next couple of stories.

Studs Terkel has been described as a historian and a sociologist but he prefers to call himself a “guerrilla journalist with a tape recorder.” He created controversy we’re told when Tony Blair resigned and he asked: “Why was he such a house-boy for Bush?” Studs Terkel died in his Chicago home on 31st October, 2008 at the age of ninety-six. He asked that his epitaph should be: “Curiosity did not kill this cat.”

He said:

“When you become part of something, in some way you count. It could be a march; it could be a rally, even a brief one. You’re part of something, and you suddenly realize you count. To count is very important.”

Working (1974), is his account of people’s working lives. Terkel wrote:

“Work is about

a daily search for meaning

as well as daily bread,

for recognition

as well as cash,

for astonishment

rather than torpor,

in short for a sort of life,

rather than a

Monday-to-Friday

sort of dying.”

This is an edited excerpt from the interview that opens the book:

(Mike LeFevre was thirty-seven in 1972). He works in a steel mill. On occasion, his wife Carol works as a waitress in a neighborhood restaurant; otherwise, she is at home, caring for their two small children, a girl and a boy...

“You don’t see where nothing goes. I got chewed out by my foreman once. He said, “Mike, you’re a good worker but you have a bad attitude.” My attitude is that I don’t get excited about my job. I do my work but I don’t say whoopee-doo.
The day I get excited about my job is the day I go to a head shrinker. How are you gonna get excited about pullin’ steel? How are you gonna get excited when you’re tired and want to sit down? It’s not just the work. Somebody built the pyramids. Somebody’s going to build something. Pyramids, Empire State Building-these things just don’t happen. There’s hard work behind it. I would like to see a building, say, the Empire State, I would like to see on one side of it a foot-wide strip from top to bottom with the name of every bricklayer, the name of every electrician, with all the names. So when a guy walked by, he could take his son and say, “See, that’s me over there on the forty-fifth floor. I put the steel beam in.” Picasso can point to a painting. What can I point to? A writer can point to a book. Everybody should have something to point to.”

~

taken from this PDF which I found on the net,

so you can too: StudyGuide-Working.pdf

A Study Guide Of WORKING

From the Book by Studs Terkel

Adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso

Original Production Directed By Stephen Schwartz

FORT WAYNE CIVIC THEATRE

IN THE WINGS Arts-In-Education Program

PERFORMANCES FOR SCHOOLS

AND SOCIAL SERVICES

Saturday, May 8, 2009 @ 2:00 p.m.

whispers of disclosure in a ludic ear

A superb thoughtful reminder of what can be whispered in your ear when you work with children, from a proper playwork person: it is an ‘amber alert’ for all  who work—even just for short intervals—with other people’s kids.

Disclosure: ‘a revelation of abuse or harm’

”Whist working with a group of primary school children recently one of them made a disclosure to me. This is something that all of us working with children and […]“

Marc Armitage | An independent consultant and researcher in children’s play.

Marc’s blog isn’t easy to make a direct link to, because it’s not on WordPress or Blogger, rather it is a ‘bespoke’ blog on his website: which might make it a bit trickier to find the specific entry.

(I’ve given you the title and it is dated 25th July 2012 – if the link above doesn’t take you right to it you’ll find it by date or title, I’m sure.)

revised for clarity and grammar, 11:00, Wednesday, August 1, 2012

 

This is a lovely techno koan ”I was…

This is a lovely techno-koan:

”I was struck last week when I saw a colleague pecking away, very quickly, with two fingers on his computer keyboard.  I asked him about it and he told me that he had recently taken a course where he had learned to touch type.  The course had been very good and he had learned to type at 30 words pre minute.  But with his two finger pecking he typed at 60 words per minute. His plan was to continue to practice his touch typing, until it was fast enough to switch over.  Of course if he switched over now, he would be touch typing even faster, sooner, but at the cost of the learning curve frustration.”

And if my blogging chum had left it there it would’ve been great. But he wouldn’t let it lie, and so the next sentence is of the dreaded ‘And you know, that’s a little bit like Jesus isn’t? ’variety. You can read the whole thing if you follow the link below.

Now, I’m aiming his koan squarely at a Mancunian author of my acquaintance who hasn’t moved on from the ‘smartphone-stabby-stabby-grunt’ stage. Typical. Young people, eh. Perhaps there’s a kind of Pareto thing going on, where if you invest only 20% of the 20% you need to get to the 80% of the lovely usability of the device–because you can’t be bothered and you’re in a rush and you need to just use it and you’re not a geek–then you remain stuck in the stabby grunt frustration, irritation, ‘bloody stupid thing’ phase. No discipline, no gumption, no stick at it no deferred reward, More importantly perhaps, I say pretentiously and portentously, we can observe another rule of what Neil Postman calls ‘Technopoly’:

Battram’s 6th Law of Technology: the smarter the phone, the dumber the user can be until something bad happens.

I read somewhere recently of the incredulous response of a young woman, asked what she would do if she had an emergency and her mobile wouldn’t work. What do you mean if my mobile won’t work? She could no more comprehend that possibility than she could the idea that the sun might not rise. Powerful ju-ju.

Apple’s Siri personal assistant technology, nearly working and available now, though officially still ‘in beta’, promises Jeeves in your phone. But what happens when Jeeves isn’t there?

JEEVES IN THE OFFING
Bertie is in trouble when Jeeves goes on holiday. 
On a trip to Brinkley Court, Bertie finds himself 
surrounded by former fiancees and old adversaries. 
Bertie looks set for a troublesome time…

Siri being ‘in beta’ is unusual for Apple, unlike Google who keep most of their applications in beta long after they have been released and sorted out. What does this portend? My guess is that the betaness of Siri is more than just a Google-style early unfinished release. I think Apple are acknowledging that this sort of application can only be developed in a co-evolutionary loop with its users. So now we have an application that assumes another characteristic of all living systems – a ‘structural coupling’ as Maturana might term it, an autopoietic relationship.

And you know, isn’t ‘in beta’ a little bit like life? (Do not say the ‘J’ word, Ed) Living systems, living things, life -always unfinished, always learning, changing, striving and such…

http://neilcrofts.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/the-lesson-of-the-keyboard/

http://www4.hmc.edu:8001/humanities/beckman/hum1/Postman.htm

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/SearchResults?an=Neil+Postman&bt.x=87&bt.y=17&sts=t&tn=Technopoly

http://www.pgwodehousebooks.com/jeeves-wooster2.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autopoiesis