Reading meanings into information (Was:: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology)

Subject: Reading meanings into information (Was:: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology)
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: Michael West <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2008 22:16:44 -0700

Michael West wrote:

> ...there will always be people around who make it their
> business to read into words and pictures "meanings" that have nothing to do
> with the matter at hand.

Speaking of this, and I agree with you, I've seen a brief training
demonstration of something like it, designed to illustrate the
importance of careful listening and writing. It goes like this:

The trainer tells the class to close their eyes and picture what comes
to mind with each word she's going to say aloud.

She then reads off a list of about 10 words; each word is evocative of
one subject that all ten words have in common. The subject, for example,
might be a room that everyone has at home. If the subject was the
kitchen, the list would name 10 things in the kitchen.

Then the class opens their eyes and writes down the ten words from
memory. The resulting lists reveal that people commonly include other
words/things that they associate with the subject, even when they
weren't on the list that was read aloud.

The exercise can be a memory challenge, to be sure, but as you suggest,
it draws on other resources that seem to be in the business of filling
in when filling in is (somehow) deemed useful.

I think it harks a little bit to the aphorism*** about intelligence. It
also seems to have things in common with [ secretion | excretion |
artesian spring | electrical short circuit]. Is it something that no one
would normally ever see except as conscientious communicators trying to
maintain a grip on language and meaning? It makes me feel like a student
of gastroenterology, not all that good.

I'd like to see it more clearly. Maybe it sometimes serves a more useful
purpose than impulsively synthesizing a stub or a fill-in for missing or
imagined memories. So while I'm tempted to label it a pest, just a
whirligig that dissembles and muddies the waters, I think I'll just
suspend judgement, just call off the bounty hunters, and just watch this
little process at work. Wonderful. It is odd, eh?

***" Aphorism about intelligence:
"Intelligence isn't what you know, it's what you do when you don't know."

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com


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Re: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology: From: John Posada
Re: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology: From: Karen Mulholland
RE: Replacing "master" and "slave" terminology: From: Michael West

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