"My mind to me a kingdom is ..."

Anchor for this item  posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 12:08 AM MST

Document Engineering Spring 2006

/academics/courses/is243/s06/ wouldn't look like much to most folk ... just an index, is all. To me? A treasure trove, vertitably ... notes and readings and lectures from a really gifted professor at a really good school. But that's just me. I guess

My first encounter with a university library was terribly traumatic. I had read most of the philosophy section of the city library, over the years. And when I was away, in the army, I had continued that reading. But there I was, registered to study philosophy, after having discovered from the inside that the military and the whole "projection of power" thing was a huge scam.

I had found my way to the lower floor of the University of Alberta's main library ... the philosophy section ... the Bs. I came out of the elevator, scanning around to locate it ... oh, Bs ahead of me. And to the left of me? Bs. And to the right? More Bs.

I staggered back against the wall and slumped to the floor in a daze ... my universe had come apart in that moment: it was manifestly evident that what the world needed was not another book of philosophy.

But I didn't cave. I had discovered that loyalty was foolish, that bourgeois sensibilities comprised a delusional state, and that "nice" usually wasn't. So this ... this was something like a coming to earth.

The reason this comes to mind in the context of techinical communications is single: in one book (by Jacques Maritain?) there was a depiction of what happens when philosphy isn't put into practice. He related how the diplomatic staff of the UN congregated to celebrate the passage of the Decleration of Human Rights. Specifically, one delegate expressed to another how he was surprised that they had accepted the terms of one section. "But why? We have no problem with X and Y!" "That astonishes me, because of M and N." "Whatever do you mean? M and N don't figure in with X and Y at all." "But of course they do, since X and Y mean A and B, so M and N come into effect there." "Oh, no, not at all ..." and away they went. They'd passed the document, they'd agreed to adopt the document, but there was no agreement on what the document meant, let alone what it entailed.

Whatever the setting: if folk don't care enough to be clear on how things operationalize then folk don't care ... or they care about something that isn't explicit: their own personal agendas. And that's not on.

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