Saturday, August 05, 2006

Of Conversations, Chopping, & Conceptual Cropping

So I've been thinking today . . .

I'm discovering that face-to-face conversations are critical components of my ability to synthesize. I know that I often prefer them to other media (assuming I have the option of an interesting one), but I wasn't totally aware of what they do for me until yesterday and today.

Had several interesting conversations with 4 different people in the last 2 days. All of them were about different topics, but I walked away with major insights from each one—insights that came after 10-15 minutes of conversation in almost every case (in other words, it wasn't the length of the conversation that produced the insight).

Explaining my thoughts to other people and having them bounce questions back helps me "crop" the ideas quickly (think of a chef chopping vegetables—slice, slice, slice so quickly and so decisively that you wonder how he manages to miss his fingers each time—well, I noticed my mind doing that today. One comment and slice, there went a huge chunk of the idea, a question and chop, there went another major piece, until after a few minutes, the whole thing is crystal clear and very condensed in my head.)

Applying the concept of cropping to ideas is interesting to me.


jenni said...

I've found a similar process happening in interviews. Sometimes the idea gets chopped by a question, but sometimes also by a facial expression or verbal reaction (that isn't necessarily a question). After a handful of interviews, I felt that everything I had to say about myself and my ideas was condensed into ridiculously small 'soundbites.' Probably has something to do with the 'immediacy' of our culture.

Cherice said...

So I'm a little delinquent at maintaining my own blog, but I'd be terribly interested in hearing more about this!

The other day, a journalist (I think it was Jeanette Walls--or perhaps a blogger who interviewed her) commented that it was difficult to listen to someone give an incredibly thought-provoking answer and have to omit that from the final story in favor of an inane "soundbite" because of time constraints.

Personally, I find that many Americans seem to be content with these sorts of conversations--so hurried, so chopped up, so limited, that neither party leaves knowing much of anything beyond the extremely superficial.

Pay attention to the number of questions that people ask you during the conversations that you have this week. You might be surprised by the results. I find the implications shocking.