Length of contributions LO12043

ray evans harrell (mcore@soho.ios.com)
Fri, 17 Jan 1997 17:13:30 -0800

Replying to LO11899 --

Arthur Battram wrote:

> What's this? Censorship thinking on the list? If At goes on too long for
> you, whoever you are, then don't read him. We've recently had a thread on
> software that screens/threads/organizes email -get some and screen him
> out. And include me on the list, and Sherri Malouf and Ben Compton, and
> other 'motormouths'. Then all you'll have is nice short soundbites, a sort
> of MTV for the learning organization.
> Grrr! rant over, very very serious point follows...


> 'talkers talking less' doesn't enable the non-talkers [lurkers in email
> speak] it blocks them still further. The unwritten rule becomes 'speak
> and you get told off'. The outcome is a subdued group, under the control
> of the leader[s].----------------------------------------

I agree Arthur although I wonder how our fearless leader is able to get
through all 35 messages, edit them and be humane every night.

I wrote a light version on talk earlier and have snapped a couple of times
since but the problem IMHO is what members of the list believe about
people who write longer posts. As a long post writer, with a Mother who
taught me business skills including typing and reading my daughter's short
length school papers, (who does not have typing skills but whose words are
insightful and plentiful aurally) my prejudice is that short posters don't
have good typing skills. But that is just as big a prejudice as the
expression that people who write long posts are undisciplined. Snip for
snap. Nonsense.

Some people write to be heard, some people write to solve a problem but
already have their decided solution in their head, some people write to
touch across the void and some people write to sell their expertise in the

I suspect this more serious list can be made very long, but what is it
that is annoying about "long?" Is it that we don't have time to write and
be recognized for our brilliance? (I mean that seriously) My relationship
with a couple of people on the list has been extremely wonderful as they
have generously shared their material with me, I have tried to return the
favor. The discussions are never easy and often not brief as I struggle
to deal with experts in other areas like engineering and physics, than my
own. I have no doubt that my asking their opinion from their busy
schedules is a bother and I find that my searching on a list that does not
know my discipline raises some funny and time consuming issues in both
directions. It seems to me that wit and humor and the assumption of
respect, good will and a trust in the unwillingness to waste the other's
time is essential.

I would however, like to share a process that comes from my own tradition
where I am at present on a community council as well as having been on
various other councils in the past. This traditional Cherokee council has
an assumption about the excellence of each of its members that makes the
ego issue less valid. So we don't explain our identity as a grounding
process, quite so much as is necessary on the net. On the other hand,
there is an assumption due to a rule about anonymity that makes individual
ego positions moot. Nothing is discussed outside of council period.

We begin by using the pronoun we rather than I (as much as we are able in
this society). We also chose to be exploratory rather than persuasive in
our intent. What that means is that no one repeats what another has said.
It is as if you were putting the pieces of a puzzle together as a group.
The only rule is that the picture must be complete and it is each person's
job to search for the parts and put them in place. Of course it is all
done consciously and in full view. There are no small group negotiations
with coups. Everyone must see the whole puzzle solved. It is as much an
issue of consciousness as of completion. Some people will sit
contemplating for hours, days and even months without saying anything
feeling the flow, the rhythm of the process and then will add a word that
finishes the puzzle. It is an amazing thing to see a person that seemed
totally uninvolved, like a 92 year old "hard of hearing" and legally blind
elder add the sentence that solves the problem.

There is no advantage to talking, as there is no advantage to being a
lurker, because we are all one organism and sometimes the flute plays and
sometimes its the violins. This is by nature an organic/ artistic
process. There is much more to it than this but this is all I am prepared
to share at the moment.

One other thing, however, the council moves only as fast as the least
member in the moment. This gives everyone a feeling of connection that
lets whomever is the leader at the moment work with the ones who need
help. The point being that everyone is at sometime a leader and sometime
in need of help and that is just life. To make it an issue of power or
politics would be a breach of etiquette.

At another time, when I have the time and if you have the interest I would
be willing to share how this has worked out in a cross- cultural business
situation (opera company in New York City). It aint easy. (as they say
in Oklahoma)


Ray Evans Harrell, artistic director
Magic Circle Chamber Opera of New York


ray evans harrell <mcore@soho.ios.com>

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>