Thursday, March 09, 2006

Imagine a picture puzzle

It comes in a medium-sized box full of hundreds of intricate little pieces. When assembled it will depict a landscape, perhaps, with large swatches of blue sea and blue sky.

Imagine my mind is like one of those picture puzzles, and so is yours. I take one of those blue puzzle pieces, give it to you, and declare, "Here's a bit of the picture in my mind. I give it to you so you can see the picture I see." I take that piece from the sky portion of my mind's picture puzzle, but you find it fits best in the sea portion of yours. "Thanks!" you say, as you join my sky piece to your sea puzzle. And off we go, cheerfully believing we have accomplished something, that we have communicated.

George Bernard Shaw wrote, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

Sometimes I think of it as the illusion of information. If I hand you a blue puzzle piece from the picture in my mind, but I don't describe the surrounding picture from which it came, I set up both of us to misunderstand each other, to miscommunicate, to see only an illusion of information.

This blog offers a collection of puzzle pieces. These are the pieces I find most helpful to create a coherent picture of the world around us.

Of course, if I really want to communicate effectively, I need to describe the whole puzzle, don't I?

More pieces to follow...

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