Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Space Between the Notes

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jul 19, 2006

On reading Kathy Sierra...

We turn clay to make a vessel; but it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends. - Tao Te Ching

An old insight, often forgotten.

Listening to the recent talks from TED, all these speakers were roaring along at top speed, delivering a hundred words a minute. In my own talks, I speak more slowly (something I learned to do to facilitate simultaneous translation). Why would a professional speaker move so quickly, I wondered, when greater comprehension comes from more paced delivery?

Then I understood. A person who speaks quickly appears to be intelligent, appears to be worth listening to, appears, therefore, to be worth paying to speak. Every speech given by one of these speakers is an advertisement for the next.

It's the same with things, with objects. Greater accumulation conveys the greater appearance of worth. But the sheer mass of objects demonstrates that the only purpose of the one object is the obtaining of another.

In this way, the filling of space results in emptiness. When the purpose of obtaining the one is only for obtaining the next, then you can never have anything.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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