Redefining Literacy

Brilliant article on literacy. I can get used to that hope. This is also the reason, I am considering an mba. :-)

the collation of reading and writing with exposition and composition of text has caused a value bubble in literacy/school/workplace.
Currently the market for exposition and composition/condensation is rarefied and non-existent and definitely paid less than many other professions and probably less than even what people good at exposition and compositions/condensation would prefer.

For evidence look at teaching as a profession and those who do it and more importantly the motivations behind those professors and teachers.


One example of the same author and ribbonfarm blog is this post . Here he’s clearly expositing ideas more abstract the original Morning is wiser than evening proverb. He not only goes all meta , but constructs a good loosely coupled arc of quite a few concepts and posts he blogs about. And that last part is what makes me go back to his blog regularly, it’s very compelling story-telling. There are times, i hate his dense, writing style, because am not interested in all the cognitive work required to decipher the implications and end up speed reading, but keep going back to his blog for that coherence in his blog posts.

Some of them are very loosely coupled, some are tight, but most importantly they(blog posts and ideas in them) are like legos blocks, you can go back read, disassemble and reconstruct. I have come to believe that the dense, writing style is a necessary condition for this style of story-telling and rather very essential. Infact, I believe my preference for simpler, technical manual style writing is what stops me from becoming a better story-teller. The reason i believe this dense style is essential, is it allows the author write more in lesser time and more importantly, write about naturally complex/conflated ideas, without wasting too much time simplifying and disassembling them.

Ever since i read about cognates here . I have been obsessed about it and now that’s word that comes to mind to replace the legos block analogy with a new term. Unfortunately, reading about it on Wikipedia only makes me feel that the definition is very narrow. Perhaps that’s a good thing from the linguistics viewpoint. To me, the definition of cognate is: a summary of neurological states. In that context, i would say, language is a tool for transferring/transmitting/communicating cognates from on living being to another. And perhaps, that’s one of the reasons we have so many conflicts and issues in interpersonal relationships. As the material wealth gets mass produced more and more the lack of ability to transfer/communicate cognates becomes more and more evident.

And the culture of learning and repeating accurately comes in the way of expositing and condensing cognates from and into words. Infact it trains us to not do that at all or as that being a waste of time.

In a discussion among colleagues about how technology is moving faster and faster reducing the physical proximity to a computing electronic device, a colleague mentioned, how there’s no more need for explaining/recollecting experiences of a movie incident or something. But instead new tech, makes it easier to just look it up and show. It struck a point home. about this literacy point. We are not only moving away from practice of exposition and condensation of verbal stuff, it’s become a vicious cycle of driving tech to avoid the same. For a few of us who grew up reading, re-reading and dreaming on free time, It sounds a bleak and scary future. The story-tellers and raconteurs are getting more and more rarefied. Either they are being made obsolete by technology or are being reduced to specific style of story-telling(lot like “One hundred years of solitude”). fast paced very little exposition, more closer to the recording of events than any exposition or condensation. I just hope atleast condensation has survived, but am not expert enough to judge that.


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