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Lessons From History

I was thinking to myself on my way home from work about what the hell I’d write about next in my blog. One of the things that came to mind (and that I perpetually think about) is the fact that, seemingly, every single topic has been collectively written about a thousand times over throughout time. Love, religion, relationships, respect, philosophy, and so on has been done to death and, more over, most of those topics seem so goddamned cliché, what’s the freaking point in ever brining them up again?

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately, and that’s something relatively new for me. I’ve been reading a lot about career searching and advice because that’s becoming a higher priority of mine, but I’ve also been reading a lot of random design blogs peppered with blogs about starting new ventures and what they call "life hacking" which seems to be basically centered around Getting Things Done. The more I read a lot of these blogs, the more I notice a lot of the same thing being said but just in a slightly different way. It’s almost as if all of these blogs and authors could be combined into one summarized website that condenses and consolidates a lot of the redundancy of the myriad of information getting whipped around all over the place.

So one of my insecurities about writing a blog is centered on whether or not anything I have to say is: A) relevant and B) cliché/worn out/re-stating the obvious/preaching to the choir/etc. This post by Penelope Trunk is what kind of inspired me to write a blog because it seems like a practical reason. I came across her site when I was at a relatively desperate point at my job and was really looking for a way out; she offers some pretty radical thoughts on not only your career, but also life. But at the same time, a lot of what she writes about is basic common sense.

I had to go right to the radio after getting home after a quick bite to eat and I popped on the history channel as I ate and caught the tail end of a program about Galen. Galen was a physician during Roman times who meticulously studied and wrote about medicine. Apparently, he wrote thousands of pages of text about his studies and became, basically, the authority on all things medicine. He even performed brain surgery and cataract eye surgery 2000 years before they became common place in western medicine. The moral of the story? Well, doctors for the next two millennia relied on his works as the only truth and never progressed medicine beyond anything he discovered, basically halting all innovations in medicine for a couple of thousand years.

It turns out, no one person knows all things about all things. Duh? So, basically, we all need to hash and re-hash any and all topics to death because, hopefully, someone will come across a breakthrough and restate something in a way that is completely new in such a profound way as to more accurately get the idea across an ever wider audience. So sometimes it takes a lesson from history to move forward to do great (or even decent?) work.

Comments (3) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Me having been on both ends of a question, as the researcher and as the expert, I can tell you there is no one way to explain something that will have the same impact on everyone. The style of presenting the information has to mesh with the person’s style of receiving the information. Since a content of a blog post is usually static, there is no way for a writer to adapt the information for the reader. It’s the reader’s burden to seek out several sources of the same information until they find one that suits them.

    A better example is with advice; you can hear the exact same words from different sources and not have it “click” until it is presented with the exact combination of tone, font, mood, intent etc that will work for you.

    So in the highly unlikely event that you actually have no insight to offer a subject, the way you deliver the content is likely to create a unique understanding to someone.

    Happy Blogging.


  2. That’s exactly the point I was trying to get to. There’s an interesting dichotomy to the reader/author relationship; whether in print (or especially online) there’s the potential for infinite readership throughout time. But the relationship is inherently a one on one relationship between the reader and the author.

    I think you hit it right on the nose Adam. There as many perspectives as there are, have been, and will be people on this earth and they all view their world through different lenses, So I guess it only makes sense that each perspective would be seeking out the voice that best fits their world view.

  3. Remember, you do have a unique perspective and life experience that is not likely to be shared by many people. Your take on politics, environmental issues, poverty, etc. is likely to add a new dimension to a discussion.

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