Re: to read or not to read...

Eric Crump (
Mon, 24 Mar 1997 11:17:35 -0600

At 1:23 AM -0600 3/23/97, Cynthia Haynes wrote:
>To those of you who expect conference presentations to be clear,
>interactive, and brief, I want to ask this: What kind of 'thinking'
>protocols (and reading protocols) are you demanding, and what is at stake
>in your demand/desire?

I'm gonna put myself in this camp, but I would describe the key
characteristics differently. Clarity, interactivity, and brevity are
important, maybe, but I think of them as subordinate to: provocativeness,
engagingness, openness.

And those qualities rest not so much on whether the presentation is read or
talked but more on whether it serves as a provocative and compelling
invitation to a conversation. The main difference, rather than reading vs
talking, is probably whether the presenter is playing a performer/lecturer
role (providing information and ideas) or a catalyst/facilitator role
(using information and ideas to instigate conversation). I happen to prefer
the latter, whether I'm presenting or participating.

This probably has less to do with whether one approach is better than the
other and more to do with what kind person I am, my predilections and
abilities. I'm a lousy lecturer, but I can keep a discussion going. You can
see why I'd lean toward conversation, eh? :) And I am very impatient.
During a given 30 minute talk/paper, I lose interest 10 times, think of
responses I'd like to make 12 times, get distracted twice by the blue jay
in the tree just outside the window, fill three notebook pages with
doodles, wonder when lunch is five times, etc. I may be ADD, I don't know.
I don't care. I wanna be *involved* in a more substantial way than just
listening. But my preference for interaction does not devalue listening or
impinge upon the preferences of people who want to listen. We simply have
different preferences.

Perhaps we'd ought to pay more attention, as presenters and as audience
members, to the implications of the various formats at conferences. For
instance, if I go to a panel, I should expect longer, more complex,
*delivered* texts. When I go to a forum, I should expect brief &
provocative talks with plenty of opportunity to converse. When I take
expectations for one into the other, I'm bound to be disappointed, but my
disappointment and dissatisfaction ought to be read as functions of the
disjunction between expectation and actuality, not an indictment of the
actuality itself.

I shouldn't blame delivered papers for being delivered papers (that would
be kind of like criticizing apples for not being oranges)!

>To those of you who prefer 'moving' presentations to the kind of
>presentation you would prefer to read in a journal instead, I want to ask
>this: By what standard of 'value' are you measuring what moves us, and to

Um, I'm not sure this is really an answer to your question, but all I can
think is that moving is its own measure. That is, if it moves us to
participate, it has succeeded as something intended to provoke movement,
interaction. I have trouble thinking of or describing some kind of external
measure to be applied to that situation.

>what end is our having been moved as opposed to our having been exposed to
>ideas and thinking packaged as 'writing' a preferable experience at a

I hesitate to accept the opposition here. Or at least, I don't want to let
it stand as inevitable. It's quite possible these days (see "Responding On
(Off)-Line to Three Works in Progress"
which you participated in, Cynthia, as an example of including both ends of
the opposition: in this case extended texts (ideas packaged as writing)
preceeded and informed the f2f event (an opportunity to move and be moved,
to interact, to converse). I didn't make the f2f session, unfortunately,
but the structure of that session, both its online and onsite components,
suggests that packaged ideas and live ideas are not mutually exclusive any

We can have our cake and eat it too! ;)

>"My honour'd lord, you know right well you did;
>And with them words of so sweet breath composed
>As made the things more rich: their perfume lost,
>Take these again; for to the noble mind
>Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind."


"Hey Ophelia, if Hamlet doesn't want to play, take his gifts and give them

Give them to someone who will like them and will want to reciprocate. Start
a conversation in which the vocabulary is gifts, things and words, and the
real gift is the conversation, given by and to whoever becomes part of it.

Tell Hamlet to take a hike."

| Eric Crump
| University of Missouri-Columbia Learning Center
| &
"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" |
--Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus |



The Margin:

April 4, 1997 at 10:25 AM
From: Jery

just another test. but not a very interesting test. just a testy kind of test on a bleary kind of day. not much interesting to say.

April 4, 1997 at 10:24 AM
From: Eric

just a test & all