Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Fast,True, Easy — Pick Two

All questions include an implicit contract. If the contract were explicit, the questioner would choose what kind of answer they wanted:
  1. brief
  2. complete
  3. comprehensible
Pick two.

For example the question "How are you?" may be answered:

  • brief, comprehensible: "Fine."
  • brief, complete: (some obscure, technical, psychological term that may not have been invented yet)
  • complete, comprehensible: (what happened so far today, and the day before, a dozen or so of your recent thoughts, your life history, your most annoying habits, your best powers concealed as charming traits, your heart rate, blood sugar and bank balances)
Define yourself by what you choose. You'll be defined by what you forgo.

3 comments:

Kate Savage said...

Very, very true. I am currently flirting via email with a friend of a friend in London. He suggested, for teh sake of getting to know more about each other, that we take turn asking questions.

I very much like him, and it is all about this, what you wrote.

Kate Savage said...

Should've spell-checked. You'll crucify me on that comment.

Bob Stein said...

Oh my, it seems he has gotten to you, judging from the typo rate.

What I like about that exercise is it's so massively revealing what questions people choose to ask. And the email medium invites complete+comprehensible answers.