George Carlin : Thought Leader

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Misplaced faith can ruin an industry just like misplaced laughs can ruin comedy.

George Carlin packages his routine into essay-style rants. While he occasionally injects a one-liner to keep the joke lively, the real humor is his thesis. Yet, some people crack-up after every line whether he tells a joke or not.

Unfamiliar? Watch this. (If you listen carefully, you can hear scattered laughter between clauses.)

Consensus says George Carlin is funny. So, the theory goes, if he’s performing than everything must be funny.

Good comedians use feedback to evaluate their material. Poor George Carlin doesn’t get the luxury of an “honest” response. Consequently, his work deteriorates and his comedy becomes less funny.

Likewise, as “thought leaders” (I hate that term) gain larger followings, their cheerleaders become more vocal. Consequently, they hear less useful feedback and their whole world deteriorates.

I’m starting to wonder if tech thought leaders and their followers are getting too loud.

More: George Carlin – Religion is Bullshit, George Carlin – Pro-life is Anti-Woman

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An Incongruous Plea to The Wired

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In our attempt to remain connected at all times, we spoil opportunities to connect in real life.

I have this romantic notion that the deepest friendships come about only through face-to-face interactions. Regrettably, I feel we are losing our ability to appreciate and understand the complexities of each other unless it’s though a blog post, e-mail, or text message.

Technology enables us to be ‘on’ all the time– which practically means we’re never off. Modern communication is instantaneous, interruptive, and incessant; and, we cope with it by multitasking. And with technology always on, we’re losing the ability to turn multitasking off.

This is especially disconcerting in social situations: we automatically anticipate distractions in moments when there’s nothing to distract us, and that awareness distracts us from each other. Sometimes we’ll artificially create a distraction to fill a void. We can’t help but multitask; and when we do, we lose detail, complexity, and depth. (Yes, even you.)

The funny thing is that technology enables us to maintain close relationships with a greater number of people. But, in doing so, we implicitly devalue face-time and forgo possibly deeper relationships. Something feels off when I feel closer to friends through e-mail and blogs than through time spent together.

I hope this isn’t the case with me. In fact, that’s the point of this post: if you ever feel I’m not giving you my full attention or I am using technology as a blanket, call me out on it. Unmediated communication is too important and I’d like to stop being a victim of my distractibility.

More: NPR: How Multitasking Affects Human Learning, Time: The Multitasking Generation

A New Blogging Format

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I’m trying a new prose form that should improve clarity and eschew verbosity. This blog will only use this form.

In my last post on michaelgruen.com, I charged that blogging tends towards inanity and verbosity. That sentiment remains; but, in following a strict set of guidelines, I think I can satisfy my laconic inclinations while still providing digestible content.

Think word sushi: delicately-prepared high-quality content that’s easy to consume.

The guidelines:

  1. The post should take no longer than a minute or two to read. The average adult can read 250 words per minute. 300 words should be more than sufficient to make a point.
  2. The post opens with a statement of 140 characters or less because anything worth saying can be compressed into a Twitter-sized nugget. This statement is the core message of the post. Additionally, it doubles as a summary so visitors need not re-read the entire post to remember the punch line. And, quite obviously, it provides a “tweetable” hook to the content.
  3. A short phrase cannot always capture an entire thought. So, a brief introduction follows to contextualize the opening statement. 50 words or less should do.
  4. Following the Twitter-sized précis and brief introduction, the bulk of the post is largely free-form. In this case, it’s an enumerated definition of a new form.
  5. The post concludes with an optional final thought, consideration, or link to more information.

This post opens with 112 characters. This entire post comprises 271 words and takes under a minute to read. It took me just under an hour to write.

And that’s the point: Posts should take longer to prepare than to digest.