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Subject:Re: Purpose of list From:Elwin McKellar <mckellar -at- MTU -dot- EDU> Date:Wed, 9 Feb 1994 23:34:04 EST
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes often talked about the "simplicity on the
other side of complexity." I seem to be spending the bulk of my
professional life searching for that simplicity. Lists, especially
professional discussion lists (TECHWR-L, COPEDITING-L, etc.) open windows
and sweep away dusty old paradigms that always seem to be in the way and
blocking my view.
Peer discussions (and arguments) give one a chance to *use* the tools - to
make the jargon sing - to refine one's professional viewpoints and clarify
knowledge before applying it to challenges.
Everyone has "holes" in their professional underwear. These embarrasing
gaps in knowledge tend to complicate one's life and retard growth toward
the nirvana of professional perfection (a worthy ideal, but a lousy
goal...). I am willing to ask questions on TECHWR-L that I wouldn't dream
of asking in a room with other professional writers. I work with students
on a documentation team at Michigan Technological University. I would
hesitate to describe how much I learn from interaction with graduate
technical communication students. They learn from me as well. I tried
graduate school, but simply could't bear all the discourse following tried
and true classroom paradigms. I have been too long in a world where
mistakes are learning tools and anything worth doing, is worth doing "good
enough". Our synergy is electric and our output is nothing short of amazing.
I see the same simple synergy radiating from the complex mix of
professional personalities, energetic and confident students, and even
some crusty curmudgeons, all dressed-up in their best didacticism and
cynicism on this list.
IMHO, the purpose of TECHWR-L and similar lists is to bring together,
momentarily, ephemerally, educated people of differing opinions and life
experiences, so they may share with each other that portion of their
professional and personal lives they are comfortable sharing. Seen from
this perspective, only those who would restrict the interplay of
information and ideas, or those who would bury us in superfluities are
guilty of wasting our time.
Is nit-picking wrong? No, but do it off the list - privately, and please,
try tact, you'll like it...
Old friends talk.
They paint anew portraits of older friends,
Shadowy lovers as grey as their shadows,
Ancient adventures gone heroic and bold,
And games from youth - a blur and a woosh.
New friends talk.
Simple lines, circles, stick-people, crayons.
Too soon for subtleties of hue.
Too soon for shadows.
Too soon for perspective.
We still have to say within the lines...
Mick McKellar, February 1994
I love it when we color outside the lines and even draw in a few of our own.
Excuse me while I slowly lower myself from this soapbox. If you read this
far, you have courage - thank you.