Arguing With Ghosts

Sometimes you're tricked into starting a discussion with people who are no longer active on this Wiki, but still have their AncientGraffiti all over it. It makes you feel silly.

No reason to feel silly.

You and I have received knowledge and skills that have been passed down to us. Some of them have been continuously passed down for millennia.

Is there any way we can "pay back" all the hard work the originator put into developing language, writing, geometry, agriculture, metal-working, etc., and other people (all long since dead) put into refining it and preserving it? Not directly. However ...

All too often, interesting conversations in the real world are interrupted for one reason or another. On this wiki, the same process occurs at high speed [Note 1].

Perhaps some of the attitudes and techniques that work really well on wiki would also work well (slowed down appropriately) in the real world.

These techniques have to work in the face of the fact that I'm responding (in the majority of cases) to "ghosts", and I in turn may be a "ghost" by the time someone gets around to responding to me.

Some of the techniques that work surprisingly well on wiki, and have inspired me to try them more often in the real world:

I find it fascinating that we can get some useful, relevant text from people who may only show up and actively edit wiki for a week or so. Conversations of a sort are still possible. When two people disagree on something, then one of them drops out of wiki, often there is someone else that has the same viewpoint (or someone who enjoys playing SaintsAdvocate / DevilsAdvocate) that can continue the conversation. (Quite often I find a ThreadMode conversation that reads like a coherent conversation going back and forth between two people. But when I look at the signatures, I am amazed to see a dozen different names.)

This helps focus the conversation on ideas (which are immortal) rather than people (who may no longer be here on wiki in a year -- or who may have already left wiki, never to read what I am about to type). Many people consider focusing on ideas, rather than people, a good thing.

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people" -- Eleanor Roosevelt

-- David Cary

Other wiki techniques that might be useful to apply more often in the real world:


1. high-speed: Interesting conversations with people are often interrupted. Phone calls, previous engagements, simple need for sleep. People move to a different city, or have the audacity to die, when we haven't quite gotten around to saying all we wish we had said, or heard all we had wished to hear from them.

On this wiki, the same process occurs at high speed. Here's an analogy:

See: WikiNow, ConversationWithBenjaminFranklin, OnlySayThingsThatCanBeHeard, GoodIdeasAreExpensive, IdeasAreWorthless

CategoryWiki CategoryWikiReflection

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