I am reading a book on how to work with the tons of digital information available to us through the internet. The book is meant for people who accumulate enormous amounts of digitized information (that would be me - thus this Christmas present from my daughter). It's interesting reading. Consider this quote from the chapter on Making Sense of Things:
Whatever else an organization is doing, it is always making sense. Making sense is a messy business. It involves interminable discussions about what things are called and a constant reshuffling of meaning as different constituencies (different language use groups) vie to set the terms of discussion. In good organizations, all this sense-making periodically converges. People compromise and settle on "best-fit" terms.... The result is an ever-evolving but also ever-converging set of words that the user group as a whole takes on to describe information.
In really good organizations, "best-fit" terms are constantly refined as the organization strives to define its chosen field. In bad organizations, it is the same messy process, but it does not converge. Terms are never even provisionally agreed to, and the only movement of meaning is by the forceful imposition of one language use group's terms on the rest of the organization.
This sounds familiar, except for the forceful imposition part. Here's more from that same page, discussing how "good" IT groups and "bad" IT groups deal with this situation:
Simply recognizing that making sense is an ongoing activity is a huge help. The bad IT group is constantly straining against the natural vying of opinions. They feel that "those people should just decide once and for all what they mean." This sort of IT group believes that there is some final taxonomy of terms that the organization can create once and then use forever. The good IT group understands that there is not such taxonomy. Instead there are terms that are more stable across language use groups and those that are in flux.
I find this interesting, given the tendency in this Instruction and Coaching forum for people to argue interminably over technique when the true differences are often predominantly embedded in definition of terms. Of course, a forum doesn't have an IT group, good or bad, that facilitates any convergence on the terms we use to define balance, forward, aft, and so on. From this book I gather that EpicSki's position-vying is not unique, and that perhaps it's even inevitable when bunches of people get together to talk about complex stuff.
EpicSki is a conversational forum, without a stated purpose targeting technical understanding, and without leadership driving any such purpose. But it hosts significant conversations about skiing technique. Given its forum-specific constraints, might there be a way to improve on the lack of compromise about what things are called, so that Epic can be a leader and reach its full potential in discussing issues in technical skiing and instruction?
Quotes from Keeping Found Things Found, The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management, William Jones.
Edited by LiquidFeet - 1/12/15 at 5:37am