Photo via Flickr (Creative Commons License) by: macwagen
I have always wanted to see my name in lights. However, this photo (of the Harris Theater on Liberty Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is probably the closest that I will ever come to such a luminous achievement.
In this blog post, I will simply shine the bright stage lights upon the reasoning behind my somewhat theatrical blogging style.
Regular readers know (and perhaps all too well) that I have a proclivity for using metaphors in my blogging.
Most often, I employ conceptual metaphors in an attempt to explain data quality (and its related disciplines) by providing context about a key concept I am trying to convey by casting it within a situation that (hopefully) my readers can more easily relate to, and (hopefully) later be able to use the conceptual metaphor to draw meaningful parallels to their own experiences.
Sometimes I weave metaphors into the very tapestry of the fine written-woven fabric that is my blogging style (such as with that admittedly terrible example). Other times, the metaphor provides the conceptual framework for a blog post. Some of my many examples of this technique include equating data quality with going to the dentist, having a bad cold, or fantasy league baseball.
However, by far my most challenging metaphors—not only for me to write, but also for my readers to understand—is when I blog either a story or a song (well, technically lyrics since—and believe me, you should be very thankful for this—I don’t sing).
Both my story posts and my song posts (please see below for links) are actually allegories since they are extended metaphors where I usually don’t include any supporting commentary, thereby hoping that they illustrate their point without explanation.
Even before the evolution of written language, storytelling played an integral role in every human culture. Listening to stories and retelling them to others continues to be the predominant means of expressing our emotions and ideas—even if nowadays we get most of our stories from television, movies, or the Internet, and less from reading books or having in-person conversations.
And, of course, both before and after the evolution of written language, music played a vital role in the human experience, and without doubt will continue to provide us with additional stories through instrumental, lyrical, and theatrical performances.
I also believe that one of the best aspects of the present social media revolution is that it’s reinvigorating the story culture of our evolutionary past, providing us with more immediate and expanded access to our collective knowledge, experience, and wisdom.
Last summer, metaphor maven James Geary recorded the following fantastic TED Talk video, during which he explains how we all use metaphors to compare what we know, to what we don’t know, and he quotes the sage wisdom of Albert Einstein:
“Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.”
If you are having trouble viewing this video, then you can watch it on TED by clicking on this link: Metaphorically Speaking
Whether you blog or not, you use metaphors, stories, and sometimes songs, to help you make sense of the world around you.
The very act of thinking is a form of storytelling. Your brain tries to compare what you already know, or more precisely, what you think you already know, with the new information you are constantly receiving. Especially nowadays when the very air you breath is literally teeming with digital data streams, you are being continually inundated with new information.
Your brain’s combinatory play experiments with bridging your neural pathways with different metaphors, until eventually it finds the right metaphor and your cognitive dissonance falls away in a flash of insight that brings a new depth of understanding and helps you discover a new way to rule the world—metaphorically speaking of course.
Related (Story) Posts
Related (Song) Posts
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