SansBlogue  
Sunday, January 17, 2010
  Might I ambiguate, please?
Christmas #23 - One hundred sigma by kevindooley
Miriam Bier wrote in her Facebook status "question: if you can disambiguate, can you not also ambiguate?"

In view of my recent posts I have to claim an emphatic: Can I [you choose the punctuation]

Since the halcyon days when I was a bright young thing the world has gained an almost infinitely greater degree of capacity to communicate. I grew up in a world of broadcast (TV and Radio - basically one way transmission of information, one way is not communication), print (also basically one way - one way is a dead end ;) and occasional handwriting (letters and such) and even more occasional telephone chats (once or twice a week to my fiancée) as the extent of common long distance communication. So a face-to-face world enriched by a little long distance communication and a lot of one to many lecturing. Now, a generation later, I sit in a refugee camp and email colleagues around the world, MSN my children in other continents, and Facebook and blog to all who are interested. Almost instant, almost ubiquitous and almost free communication. My 1975 self would see this as utopian.

BUT this increased capacity to communicate also increases our access to information, which increases our (own estimates of our) knowledge. Greater perceived certainty is a dangerous thing. It leads to simplistic black and white thinking. This combined with our increased capacity to communicate, leading to fads (on a global scale like the latest TV sensation or publishing blockbuster, or locally like the way biblical studies bloggers have rashes of posts about the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracon), produces an uncertain, unstable world.

That's dangerous as well as exciting. An uncertain world in which humans are more "certain" scares me. Certainty is the enemy of truth, truth comes from living with ambiguity, ambiguation is the servant of truth.

See also: John's History versus Myth: A True False Dichotomy and my Internet fast: The degradation of predictability - and knowledge.

So, my friends: Ambiguate all you can! Disrupt certainty :)

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