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Turning writing into a conversation
March 30, 2008 4:18 AM   Subscribe


 
You're wrong, asshole, for the following reasons...
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:21 AM on March 30, 2008


No.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:21 AM on March 30, 2008


So - is this completely retarded?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:27 AM on March 30, 2008


Paul Graham is a self-important dilettante, of course he would write this article, look at all the people who constantly disagree with him! Plus, his style of writing is overwrought and overly didactic, do we really need another article on disagreement?
posted by jeremias at 4:28 AM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


LOVE!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:28 AM on March 30, 2008


Ah yes, you want room 12A, Just along the corridor.
posted by pompomtom at 4:32 AM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Ah yes, you want room 12A, Just along the corridor.

No, you don't
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:04 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Isn't this the guy that told us last week that he and his friends were lions, but kids today are sheep? Him smart!
posted by poppo at 5:12 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Since when has calling someone an arsehat required so many rules?
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 5:12 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wish they handed out a Beginner's Guide To Rhetoric with each MeFi username.
posted by Dizzy at 5:31 AM on March 30, 2008


When I strongly disagree with someone, I find that the best way to keep the discourse polite, open and honest is to tell my opponent how fat his mother is and/or how I had sex with her last night.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:47 AM on March 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


The author promotes the idea that if everybody disagreed in such an ordered fashion then the world would be a better place.

For some reason this makes me want to give him a wedgie and punch him in the arm.
posted by mediocre at 5:50 AM on March 30, 2008


Do we need to have a post here every time Paul Graham posts to his blog? Just wondering.

An additional question: how did Paul Graham get permission to use the Yahoo! favicon! as his own?
posted by grouse at 5:57 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ok, but how does Paul Graham feel about lisp?
posted by rdr at 6:00 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


well, how else are we supposed to compensate for being tamed, toothless lions?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:09 AM on March 30, 2008


Paul Graham's writing has gotten to the point that I'm prepared to take the fact that he holds some opinion as evidence that the opposite opinion is the correct one. Eric Raymond is on that list, too; hackers who've met with some success, who then go on to write elaborately oversimplifying essays on subjects they're only marginally familiar with. Economics? No problem! Relationships? Simple! Politics? Easy!

The common seems to be that programming is hard, so everyone else's job must be easy. I work with complex systems all the time, and I've been successful, so everything else in the world is just a complex system, right? And if the world was just like the mental model of the world that I've built up in my head, it would work great.

Sadly, as previously noted, Paul Graham's writing doesn't do much except tell you way more than you really wanted to know about Paul Graham.
posted by mhoye at 6:13 AM on March 30, 2008 [19 favorites]


Actuallly, speaking as someone who has broken every rule in the book, he kind of has a point.

But he still sounds like a total douchebag.


Yeah, I plead and plod on like that a bit, too. Shut up. Less talk, more bread-breaking, drinking, and making out, all of you.
posted by loquacious at 6:23 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just had a flashback to a really long meeting where I had to argue for an hour with a software engineer over why using the word "help" on a web page was better for users than "documentation."

"But it is documentation."

"I know, but users will glom onto the word 'help' better. It's simpler."

"But it's a documentation file."

"For the sake of argument, can we use the word 'help'? Please?"

This essay is probably beyond the reading comprehension of a good number of internet users; so the very people he wants to reach will likely pass it by and keep on arguing the way they've always done.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:43 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


how did Paul Graham get permission to use the Yahoo! favicon! as his own?

He sold his first company to Yahoo, which became Yahoo Stores. That's what gave him his money and power and why people pay attention to him instead of ignoring him like that linux crank with aspergers in your IT group.
posted by mathowie at 6:44 AM on March 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


I disagree
posted by Jofus at 6:46 AM on March 30, 2008


Late to the party...

1
2
3
posted by prefpara at 6:56 AM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is an interesting stance on the nature of online writing. I disagree with it, though.

I hate when people ask me for evidence of something. It's a conversation, not a debate. We aren't really writing; we're talking into a keyboard. Making demands is poor manners.

Conversations have no winners and losers, only participants.
posted by breezeway at 7:06 AM on March 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm not quite sure how to take this article, am I in fashion or not?
posted by cavalier at 7:23 AM on March 30, 2008


He sold his first company to Yahoo, which became Yahoo Stores.

I knew that, but did they really give him permission to use Yahoo! trademarks! for his own use as part of the agreement? Or are they just turning a blind eye?

I hate when people ask me for evidence of something.

Personally, I don't mind. It is good to be able to separate people who are just bullshitting in a conversation from people who can actually back up their claims with facts. Not that there isn't a place for bullshitting too, but sometimes you need to know who is doing what. Especially if one is going to repeat the claims to others.
posted by grouse at 7:24 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


He uses the same app (Yahoo Stores) to power his essay site, so essentially yeah, he gets to use the Y! logo because they set that as the favicon on every Yahoo Stores user.
posted by mathowie at 7:47 AM on March 30, 2008


Right, so this is a very watered-down distinction between valid and invalid forms of argument. Something like what you'd learn in a first-year logic course. Of course, if you've ever been in such courses, you know that making the distinction is the easy part. It's the difficulty of recognizing fallacies that makes that kind of logic so tricky. It's like telling someone who needs to go on a diet that they should avoid carbohydrates, then ending the conversation -- it doesn't do him much good unless he already knows what foods carbohydrates are found in.

Graham's early stuff was kind of interesting, but his articles seem to be losing style and substance as the years go by.
posted by voltairemodern at 7:50 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whether or not this essay is weak sauce, or came from a washed-up overgeneralizing blowhard, it would still be a good thing if some people were influenced towards its positions.
posted by Jpfed at 8:03 AM on March 30, 2008


If ever there were a completely pointless place for this topic to be discussed, MetaFilter is it.
posted by bwg at 8:06 AM on March 30, 2008


I see what you're saying about backing up claims, grouse, but I don't think every statement in a conversation is a claim.

Also, the way I see it, everybody's just talking, and then one person says to another, "Explain yourself." My response is, "Who the fuck do you think you are, demanding explanations from me?"

It's bad manners to demand explanations from anyone. Lovers put up with it because they get so much more out of their relationships, but too much explaining makes love go sour.

Friendships cannot handle demanded explanations. Parent-child relationships are turned into resentments when children grow up feeling they have to explain themselves all the time.

People go to shrinks because they feel the overwhelming need to explain themselves to someone who won't demand (but will encourage) further explanation.

So when someone I don't know demands explanation or evidence of some "claim" I made while bantering on the internet, I get annoyed. Who the fuck is she to demand anything from me?

Of course, in the rare occurrence that internet discourse elevates to the level of debate, evidence does come into play, as do briefs and reason and real rhetoric and all that stuff. But most of the time, a demand for evidence is a sign of hubris: someone thinks their statements are worthy of real debate and demands evidence from those who disagree.

This isn't debate, most of the time. So, most of the time, it's rude to act like it is.
posted by breezeway at 8:21 AM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


mhoye And if the world was just like the mental model of the world that I've built up in my head, it would work great.

That describes a lot of IT people I've met.
posted by jouke at 8:37 AM on March 30, 2008


It's bad manners to demand explanations from anyone.

Well, it is poor manners to demand it. I don't think it is poor manners to ask what basis someone has for believing something. That doesn't mean that you have to respond with a detailed MLA-compliant footnote, or even at all. But the response can helpful in deciding whether to take a poster's viewpoint as one's own. Many of the participants will not know as much as you on a particular subject, so it is helpful to explain the bits that they don't know.

This isn't debate, most of the time.

Actually, I disagree. One of the reasons I read the comments on MetaFilter is because they frequently rise above the level of mere conversation quite frequently.
posted by grouse at 9:02 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


who then go on to write elaborately oversimplifying essays on subjects they're only marginally familiar with. Economics? No problem! Relationships? Simple! Politics? Easy!

So... Paul Graham is a postmodern philosopher! I knew it.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:41 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


To my addled brain, "conversation "has low stakes; we are casually exchanging information that may or may not have an agenda or a point.
"Debate" implies an agenda, a scorecard, a winner and a loser-- it is an activity with high stakes.
posted by Dizzy at 9:46 AM on March 30, 2008


DH2. When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. DH3. There are many arguments that don't fall neatly into one category, that DH2 he'd understand if he was less of a programmer and more of a logician.

Most intellectual dishonesty is unintentional. Someone arguing against the tone of something he disagrees with may believe he's really saying something. Zooming out and seeing his current position on the disagreement hierarchy may inspire him to try moving up to counterargument or refutation.

DH4. I disagree. It seems unlikely for three reasons.

1. His structure is extraordinarily simple, and no substitute for a few hundred pages of Greek or Buddhist teaching, take your pick.

2. Sometimes arguments can be strengthened by elements lower (higher if you see a pyramid, sideways if a tesseract, or broccolli if you have synasthesia) on the scale.

3. The scale presupposes factual refutation to be the pinnacle of disagreement, when argument from principle can be, and often is, just as important.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:54 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


On his spectrum, "nuh uh" is pretty much dead center, and he suggest it as a minimum level of discourse, which we all should aspire to. I predict an imminent improvement in Quality of Internet as these ideas sweep the globe!
posted by aubilenon at 9:55 AM on March 30, 2008


Then there's the method of proposing a better idea instead, thereby bringing a solution and not just a problem to the issue.
posted by Brian B. at 10:44 AM on March 30, 2008


Then there's the method of proposing a better idea instead, thereby bringing a solution and not just a problem to the issue.

Fair enough. New policy proposal: an intro logic course should be required before the use of the internet is allowed. How's that?
posted by voltairemodern at 11:01 AM on March 30, 2008


WOW. That was amazing. I've never read anything about this "ad hominem" concept before. Mine eyes have seen the light.

Perhaps this one you call 'Paul Graham' will someday again ascend from the heavens and add to the collective knowledge of the Internet by relaying the rare wisdom of the 'red herring' and 'true Scotsman' fallacies.
posted by dgaicun at 11:29 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fair enough. New policy proposal: an intro logic course should be required before the use of the internet is allowed. How's that?

Or just have forums offer a type of discursive aptitude test and place the scores in our profiles.
posted by Brian B. at 11:36 AM on March 30, 2008


Actually, I disagree. One of the reasons I read the comments on MetaFilter is because they frequently rise above the level of mere conversation quite frequently.

I would call that "elevated discourse" and not debate, which I understand as a much more formal structure.

The thing is, being human, the only thing interesting about us is our differences. That's why we expend so much energy exploring them, and so little energy enumerating the ways in which we are alike.

So most conversation, being about what interests us, hinges on differences in perception, opinion, or knowledge.

The trouble, as I see it, is that most debate also hinges on these differences, but is structured in a way normal conversation isn't. There are requirements in debate regarding rigor and evidence that aren't present in conversation.

When we "talk" about a subject in an online forum like this, the very fact that we're writing, not speaking, and can thus take time to choose and edit our words to narrow our specific lines of discourse, elevates our conversations to levels most of us can't achieve in extemporaneous speech. But it doesn't make it debate.

So I think we tend to fool ourselves with our erudition: when an argument flares up during elevated discourse, we dub it debate, though it lacks the pre-arranged commitment to rules, rigor, and evidence that marks actual debate. When we call conversation "debate," even if only in our own minds, we try to impose debate's rules on mere conversation.

There are, as always, exceptions to this. Threads are sometimes taken over by two (rarely more) commenters with an unspoken agreement to respect the rules of debate and to supply evidence and argument and counter-argument and all that. But those are truly few and far-between.

Far more often, our own commitment to ideas and prose style and clarity fools us into thinking we're debating when we're just conversing at a high level. When we start holding one another up to scrutiny under a different set of rules than those of mere conversation, we stop conversing and start demanding.

There's a great deal of high-level conversation and elevated discourse here, and very little real debate. I'm glad of this, as conversation allows the central question to change, and the resulting flow of topic allows more people to join the discourse and inform our perception of an issue. That's perfect for online fora.

Debate's rigors and requirements just don't work well here.
posted by breezeway at 11:41 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


No mention of Godwin? I'm rather disappointed.
posted by dickasso at 11:46 AM on March 30, 2008


breezeway I've got to disagree, even in casual conversation if someone makes an asertion that is completely off the wall I don't think its inappropriate to ask them what they're basing it on. To *demand* an explanation would, I'll agree, be rude, but to ask for one seems only reasonable.
posted by sotonohito at 12:25 PM on March 30, 2008


No mention of Godwin? I'm rather disappointed.

You know who else never mentioned Godwin?
posted by maxwelton at 12:29 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sure, sotonohito, asking for an explanation for an off-the-wall assertion is conversationally acceptable. But in conversation, you have to accept what you get, and make your judgment from that. An explanation is not evidence.

If the answer is, "A lifetime of paying close attention to the subject led me to my conclusions," it should suffice, in conversation. To press for sources and corroborating evidence is rude.
posted by breezeway at 12:53 PM on March 30, 2008


I thought I agreed with breezeway, but he's gone all Bligh, so I'm not sure.

Regardless, I do dislike the "have you got a cite" shit that gets thrown around here, because it's just throwing a boulder at the conversation/debate/high level what-ever. There are ways to ask people if they can back themselves up without just going "fuck you that's crap" and still engaging with them.

It's usually better to give people the benefit of the doubt, and address their point, even if you have to say "yes, that would mean X, but I'd be surprised if Y was true because Z. What makes you think that?"

As for Graham: boo hoo everybode was mean about your ickle Future Of Lisp so now you're expounding on how to disagree with you? Oh sob.
posted by bonaldi at 1:02 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Funny how this thread seems to have gotten stuck around DH2.
posted by adamrice at 1:13 PM on March 30, 2008


on posting: no, I completely disagree with that, breezeway. We don't let assertions go unchallenged here just because it would be rude, or because the poster thinks they're an expert (But that doesn't mean we need to be rude in doing it).
posted by bonaldi at 1:14 PM on March 30, 2008


You are all wrong -- PERIOD.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:25 PM on March 30, 2008


The Exploding Unicorn weighs in on the matter
posted by tylerfulltilt at 1:25 PM on March 30, 2008


If the answer is, "A lifetime of paying close attention to the subject led me to my conclusions," it should suffice, in conversation. To press for sources and corroborating evidence is rude.

I'd say that suffices in direct conversation only because most of us don't (yet) carry the internet around in our pocket.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:27 PM on March 30, 2008


Gone all Bligh? Please explain, Fletcher Christian.

I said what I meant upthread, really. You challenge an assertion, and then if the answer doesn't satisfy you, you make your judgment. But what people don't do is to demand specific citations and quotes and name-drops to back up that answer. That's insulting behavior.

If the point is to insult, that's fine. If the point is to communicate, prodding people for "evidence" is inappropriate.

The real trouble is, I pointed out what you're disagreeing with to back up an explanation of an explanation of my initial point, so you're looking at a point couched in terms of terms couched in other terms... In other words, it was my mistake to try to explain or clarify at all.

We tend to pluck sentences out of each other's paragraphs and answer them, regardless of the greater point. This often mischaracterizes the larger vein of thought, and can really damage even the original point.

I'm not here to debate. I'm here to read, and write, and learn, and maybe teach along the way. Also to fool around. A lot. But not to debate. That shit's for the grinds.

And on preview, you think the internet's a verifiable, trustworthy source, kid ichorous? Good for you, I guess. I'll still look elsewhere.
posted by breezeway at 1:48 PM on March 30, 2008


Gone all Bligh? Please explain, Fletcher Christian.
It's a MeFi way of saying tl;dr

This often mischaracterizes the larger vein of thought, and can really damage even the original point.
Yes, which is why you don't try and develop long veins of thought in forum threads, the medium and audience are all wrong. Straight to point, with cites to back you up.
posted by bonaldi at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2008


tl;dr

Damn; I was operating under an assumption of mutual respect. Your insult is a surprise. Why are you responding to something you didn't read?

It's not a matter of developing long veins of thought, it's a matter of responding to people who've plucked sentences out of full paragraphs. Paragraphs, it seems, they haven't read. Which, I see now, is futile. Thanks for the lesson.
posted by breezeway at 2:08 PM on March 30, 2008


Cos this is the internet and it's how it rolls? It is a matter of developing long veins of thought, and the difficulty of it. Plucking sentences out of paragraphs is a key response format on forums, and it's best to try and structure your argument so that a) each post stands alone, b) it can't be too easily misconstrued by a quick-scanning reader in a hurry.

You talk about rudeness. We're mostly busy people. Don't take 8 paragraphs to say what can be said in 1, but if you do, don't expect they'll get forensic attention.
posted by bonaldi at 2:23 PM on March 30, 2008


I see demanding (or requesting, whatever) evidence to back up a statement in a polite conversation as either: calling bullshit on something, or saying "wow, that sounds interesting, tell me more." I may do either in an actual conversation face-to-face with someone, but not often. I don't call bullshit on someone every time I think they're bullshitting.

When someone does that to me on the Internet, I take it in that sense. Calling bullshit on me? Well, either I care what you think and provide the evidence, or not. Even in the first case, I'm quickly going to get tired of talking to you if I have to document statement after statement like I'm writing a paper.
posted by ctmf at 2:24 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


seems a bit freshman english, but i don't disagree much with the "central point," which i think it is to maintain civility perhaps even when you find another person completely repulsive. winky. smiley. face.

I think in general this is a pretty bad post, when the thread itself becomes far more entertaining than the link. ymmv, i suppose. still laughing at many comments.

dh rating: 3.5
posted by mrgrimm at 2:28 PM on March 30, 2008


in shorter words: the internet is serious business. no link. discuss.

or i underestimate the importance: perhaps this Paul Graham is like Earth Hour for the semi-literate? i am not familiar.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:34 PM on March 30, 2008


don't expect they'll get forensic attention

Like I said, it's not a debate.

You dig your grave, I'll dig mine. We'll meet dead in the middle.
posted by breezeway at 2:55 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


If the answer is, "A lifetime of paying close attention to the subject led me to my conclusions," it should suffice, in conversation. To press for sources and corroborating evidence is rude.

Maybe I have been in science too long, but I don't agree with this. If I know and trust the person, I might be satisfied with their gut feeling. If they are an anonymous person on the internet who I know only by a username, this is very unlikely.

But even people who have been paying close attention to a subject for a lifetime twice as long as mine sometimes make ridiculous statements. Some of these people even have Nobel prizes.

So I don't think it's wrong to make inferences about the strength of an argument based on the lack of supporting information, especially when the proponent has specifically been invited to provide some and declined to do so. Nor is it rude to call attention to this in a public forum where the proponent has made his claim. Yeah, it's something I wouldn't do if I were talking with someone one-on-one at the pub, but again I think this place is best when it rises above a mere pub conversation.

Calling bullshit on me? Well, either I care what you think and provide the evidence, or not.

Sometimes I would provide the evidence because I care what other people think. Or not.
posted by grouse at 3:24 PM on March 30, 2008


I just end all arguments with "Odin!"

Works every time.
posted by aldurtregi at 3:37 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of time and typing could be saved if, like the comedians who numbered their jokes for convenience, we could just use Graham's shorthand from now on.

DH0!

I know you are, but what am I?

DH6!

*slinks away in silence*
posted by dhartung at 4:29 PM on March 30, 2008


"The web is turning writing into a conversation."
I'd be more inclined to agree with him if he hadn't made this fundamental error. "The web is turning a conversation into writing" is perhaps a more correct appraisal of the way blogs etc. work.

As most above me have already pointed out, when you sit down to write a webpage, blog post, or comment, we're not setting out to create "writing". We're having a conversation - be it with just ourselves, nobody, a handful of friends, or the wider internet. This is what makes them fundamentally different to, say, literature, or journal articles, or scholarly reviews. "Conversation" is not, and never really was, as highbrow and worthy as people longing for the grand - and largely apocryphal - tradition of discussion and enlightenment of the gentlemen's club or Royal Society presentation seem to believe.

Conversation is people talking trivia, or having a bull-session, or engaging in a Seinfeldian "about nothing" fashion. At its highest, it's bouncing interesting and possibly worthwhile subjects around in an easy, non-committal, non-judgemental atmosphere, preparing for possible later deeper consideration.

Essentially he's developing an argument from a faulty premise, then using it to convince us that the rest of the world is wrong. Socrates too was a great thinker, scholar, and conversationalist - but even he was totally wrong about many, many fundamental things, just as Paul Graham is. He'd be better off lamenting the conflation of conversation with real scholarly discussion that seems to be going on inside his own head.

DH6, with a side order of DH4 (and possibly a garnish of DH0/1).
posted by Pinback at 5:17 PM on March 30, 2008


Sorry to veer so readily from verbose to obtuse.

I see statements on an internet forum less as claims and more as, well, statements. It's on me to verify anything I read or hear, anywhere. Forum comments are written in the way letters or emails are written. If it's important or interesting, I'll follow up on it.

Debate is full of claims, and in debate, claims require citations. Proof's burden is much heavier.

The internet is full of letter-writers, not published debaters, and is a poor source for proof. It's also full of people who are just talking. I think it's presumptuous to demand from them academic rigor.
posted by breezeway at 5:48 PM on March 30, 2008


It's on me to verify anything I read or hear, anywhere.

Definitely. And if you have ready access to the person who wrote or said something, the easiest way to do this is to ask the person why they think it is so. Personally I don't get insulted when I am asked to do so. It may be really easy for me to explain—perhaps it only requires a little more discussion, or I happen to have a good resource bookmarked, or can remember some clues that will allow me to search for it easily. I see no problem with providing this service to someone who will have a more difficult time finding the information themselves.

Other times it might not be so easy, or I won't have the time. If that is the case, I still can't see how it would be insulting that someone asked respectfully if I could. Nor can I really blame them if they choose not to believe me or to say so.

The internet is full of letter-writers, not published debaters, and is a poor source for proof.

The Internet is not a homogeneous entity. There are certainly resources on the Internet which are as excellent sources for proof as anything else, and are just made easier to search and access here. One ought not to belittle others for relying on the Internet for research, either.
posted by grouse at 6:04 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It comes down to the difference between "Cite source, please," and "What makes you say that?" I see only one of those as really conversational, appropriate to the broad appeal of the general internet forum.

And yes, of course, the internet is full of good sources. Quite a bit of it isn't so good, though; since proof isn't always positive, requiring it isn't always productive.

Of course, there are exceptions. All over the place.
posted by breezeway at 7:59 PM on March 30, 2008


It comes down to the difference between "Cite source, please," and "What makes you say that?"

To be fair, I find the "cite please" formulation somewhat rude myself.
posted by grouse at 8:13 PM on March 30, 2008


tl;dr
posted by Artw at 9:41 PM on March 30, 2008


If you don't have anything nice to say, try putting it on the Internet.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 10:59 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


“hackers who've met with some success, who then go on to write elaborately oversimplifying essays on subjects they're only marginally familiar with.”

Yeah, the “ad hominem” doesn’t carry much weight if you’re disputing a fact. I’ll take Joe Structural Engineers’ word on building a bridge over Joe Rhetoric’s, no matter how eloquent or good the latter’s ideas.
That said the aim in discourse should be to understand the other person’s argument. Otherwise, what’s the point? You’re not learning something yourself other than assuring yourself you’re right about what you already knew.
That’s what’s so nice about reading. You absorb and digest. Your mind takes the time to think about the matter. Understand the perspective - such that you can add to the conversation or the meaning rather than simply oppose it for the sake of ego.
Debate is more competition and testing of certain ideas. Also interesting, but typically not as inclusive. Someone with something to contribute shouldn’t have to have it dichotomized as the price of participation.
I think any exploration is worthwhile, given that it’s not ego-driven and it’s in earnest.
You’re either learning or teaching. Those are fun, and typically more fun - or at least better for the digestion - than contesting.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:10 PM on March 31, 2008


Being slagged off is good for you.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on March 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


mhoye: And if the world was just like the mental model of the world that I've built up in my head, it would work great.

jouke: That describes a lot of IT people I've met.

That's funny. If a lot of IT people were just like the mental model of IT people that I've built up in my head, technical competence and ability to work with others would be completely disjoint.
posted by eritain at 2:22 PM on April 23, 2008


Do you work in IT eritain? Overly literally interpreting utterances is also something IT people tend to do.....
posted by jouke at 4:19 AM on April 24, 2008


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