Length of contributions LO12145

Bill Harris (billh@lsid.hp.com)
Thu, 23 Jan 97 8:58:52 PST

Replying to LO12117 --

Ben writes:

>It seems to me that the terseness of our communication has caused us to
>lose a certain richness in our language. Instead of painting a picture
>with words, we want to cut to the heart of the matter. We want to get at
>the facts. It's almost as if we're losing a sense of context: Facts stand
>on their own merit, independent of their environment.

I don't agree. Think of poetry, which has been around for centuries. One
of its characteristics, as I recall from school and from reading, is
compression: expressing complex thoughts richly, briefly.

We have a classical case of diversity here: some are comfortable with the
style of 19th century philosphers, some write like Faulkner (a favorite
author from my youth, but not one to read for fast comprehension) or
perhaps Dickens, others prefer sonnets, while still others may even prefer
music, painting or sculpture for communicating.

There's nothing wrong with well-done expression in any of these forms;
it's just that some may _prefer_ one and some another. That's why they
teach literature and art history and ... --- to help us all understand the
beauty and expressiveness in a variety of forms, including those we might
not have been inclined to explore. And, as several have noted, that's why
editing is a key part of successful creating.

There was once a speaker on creativity here who had us, his audience, take
five minutes to write a poem on love. We then had to read it to the
person next to us. That was very challenging, but I surprised myself by
writing something that I felt good about. He noted that, were he in front
of a more artistic audience, he might have asked them to do something
vastly different (write a help page for setting the clock on your VCR?).
The exercise of getting outside one's comfort zone was exciting,
broadening, and generally helpful. I guess that's what learning is all



Bill Harris                             Hewlett-Packard Co. 
R&D Productivity Department             Lake Stevens Division 
domain: billh@lsid.hp.com               M/S 330
phone: (206) 335-2200                   8600 Soper Hill Road
fax: (206) 335-2828                     Everett, WA 98205-1298 

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