Hi dave (and others)

Thanks for the post, and for the conversation it has started.

Metaphors, like clothes, shouldn’t be worn for too long before changing them. The desktop metaphor of the Mac OS seemed pretty natural to me, until I stepped into the Amiga’s garage and approached the “Workbench”. The difference between the white collar and blue collar environments, and the loaded visual metaphors they employed, was a revelation.

We can compare unfamiliar things to things that we already have some grasp of, but we have to constantly turn it around in our hands (and in our mind) and try to see it from different vantage points and perspectives (which is easier to do with the help of others, who can report on what they see from where they stand). The best conversations happen in the alleyways between established ideas. We have to keep exploring, and we have to keep talking about what we are finding, using different languages to describe what we see, so we can avoid the trap that any one language can become.

I wonder if, for complicated concepts, the best we can do is beat around the bush together and try to come to a shared understanding of the idea of “bushness”, without expecting that we will be able to understand the bush completely. Once we think we’ve grasped it, it might have flowered, or shed its leaves, or we might have discovered that the most interesting story is underground, or that it cannot be understood as a separate, singular thing.

Let ten thousand metaphors bloom!

Mark McGuire