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Wednesday
Dec302009

Blogging (... or not ...)

Given that I've not posted anything here for months, I sat back to consider blogging, and how I've been using 'the media" -- blogs, micro-blogs, feeds, streams, rivers, ... yeah... you get the idea.

For the most part, I've considered my contributions to be just a bit more than a pointer. It's why I've found myself using Twitter or Facebook more. I'm usually pointing to something others have produced and identifying a new source of [ information | opinion | entertainment | irritation ], or trying to amuse someone who might be following along. As a result, I haven't blogged.

Why? My micro-posts on Twitter or Facebook feel either obvious or of limited (short-lived) value. A blog post seems a more permanent, searchable, retained record with which I'm forever associated. As a result, I write much more cautiously. Why the caution? Here are my admittedly [ neurotic | cowardly ] reasons:

  • I hate showing off my ignorance. I'm an expert, right? If I open my mouth (or put fingers to keyboard), it should be authoritative. 
  • I might anger someone who is (or will turn out to be) important to me. What if I gore someone's sacred ox, only to find out I've just diss'd the next customer or partner?
  • I am (for better or worse) capable of appreciating the validity of opposing viewpoints. So, when someone takes issue with my position, I'll often acknowledge the worthiness of the argument... which then appears to be indecision, intellectual sloppiness, or cowardice.

Let's take these in order.

First, I've changed my mind before. The world has changed around me. New information is always coming to light. I can't be and won't always be the 'smartest person in the room.' Stating a position today doesn't mean I have to defend it until the day I die. If I'm uninformed or misinformed, I have to rely on the community to set me right. The lesson: Stop treating blog posts as though they're carved in stone. I'm not required to defend them forever.

Second, if the tussle of ideas devolves into a personal popularity contest we all fail. If I take a legitimate position that is interpreted as an insult or personal slight, that's the listener's serious problem. if I've attacked an idea or position with an ad hominem argument, then shame on me. You deserve to call me on it. The lesson: Don't equivocate. (Thanks, Alexis.)

Third, my reaction to opposing argument is two-fold: There's the ability to retain and operate in the face of uncertainty and with mutually inconsistent positions. And then there's empathy. You might be correct. I happen to have another position (at the moment), complete with my OWN premises, logic and supporting data. And, the best outcome is often to state the case in the extreme in order to let the adversarial and dialectic process work its magic... or at least provide entertainment. (I should have learned that a lot earlier from Bob Metcalfe.)

The overall lesson is one that my friend David Hoffman recently provided: First, be clear about what you care about. Then, be as complete as you can about why you care. For your own benefit and that of others, then be clear about how much you care.

I'll start blogging more.

Comments, better arguments and brickbats are welcome.  

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Reader Comments (1)

Rich,

You've always been on the top of my RSS feeds. Twitter and Facebook are ephemeral. Blogs are more like a journal. When meeting a new person I love to read their blogs because I feel like I know them a bit better.

Look forward to your latest postings.
Dec 30, 2009 at 8:24AM | Unregistered Commenterbruce fryer

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