Struggling with style

I’ve noticed a real problem with writing in this blog.

It isn’t that I don’t have any topics to write about; my “drafts” collection in this blog’s control panel has half-a-dozen articles on the go. It isn’t that I don’t know exactly what I want to say about those topics; I have the articles perfectly pictured in my head.

That’s the problem, they’re pictured.

See, I don’t think much in English, or in any other natural language (no comments about the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis and what this must say about my personal psychology, please). No, I’m not an alien, a cyborg, or some AI experiment in blogging running on an MIT mainframe somewhere: I just think visually: lines, shapes, spatial relationships, colors – all rendering concepts in visual patterns. While its a wonderful way to think when one is designing software (especially with the advent of UML and other visually based design tools), I don’t think it makes for very good blogging. Do you think the following makes for a good blog entry?

UML Diagram

Two points to anyone who can tell me what this actually says - and yes, it actually says something meaningful


This doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just a rough visual illustration.

Yet, that isn’t a bad view of what some of those scrawled notebook pages look like. Diagrams – always diagrams, short terse notes, some simple scrawls in predicate logic notation (I’m no mathematical logician, but I like the precision of the nomenclature for representing and working out ideas logically). They make sense to me, but it is unlikely they’d make much sense to you. Yet part of this blog is working out ideas in a way that can be communicated.

Sure, I can translate the concepts in the diagrams and equation scrawls into words – it just takes me 100 times longer. My ability to translate thought from one form to another is, as-of-yet, unsatisfying; the results tend to be long, rambling, and fraught with block-offs and parenthetical expressions. Even I look at the results and think “my God but that’s long and rambling”, but I’m having problems chopping things down: the results are usually incomplete, or worse, the nature of the English language allows for misinterpretations or inferences to be read into areas that I don’t want them read into. English is a wonderful language full of subtle gradations of emotion, inference, and interpretation – but it isn’t a language that it makes easy to render logically precise ideas. Yet, somehow I think a blog written in Lojban would have a readership of almost zero.

I’m not saying my way is better than anyone else’s. I’m not some “misunderstood genius” because I think in an arcane fashion, or any such nonsense. I just do it a little bit different than most of the people I know, that’s all. I don’t even think it likely that my way of thinking is unique; vision is too much a part of the human experience for there not to be other people out there that think this way. Undoubtedly thinking in a primarily visual style has some advantages. Undoubtedly it has drawbacks. It is just a way of thinking and representing thought. A blog, and the English language, is just another way.

I’m just struggling with the translations.

Suggestions are welcome.


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3 Responses to Struggling with style

  1. caveblogem says:

    I’ve thought for a little while about starting a blog in Lojban. My readership couldn’t possibly decline much anyway. I promise I’ll try to read yours if you start one. Or you could edit the diagrams a little so that they are a little easier for others to digest. HAve you ever read Dave Pollard’s blog at Salon? He does a lot of diagramming stuff that makes for interesting reading.

  2. And likewise, if you start a Lojban blog, I’d love to see it 🙂

    I’ll have to do some searching to see if anyone is actually doing this.

    As for cleaning up the diagrams, yes I’m thinking that I’ll have to start incorporating diagrams into my blog entries. Unfortunately, this makes the “creation time” of any entry a lot higher: writing out a couple of paragraphs in text, and creating a diagram in something like Smartdraw 7.0 takes about the same amount of time, and it eats up a lot of server storage space. Additionally it reduces the places I can blog from “anywhere I have web access” to “anywhere I have web access and a diagramming tool”.

    Perhaps there is a public Graphviz server out there, much like the public Mimetex server I used to render the predicate logic sentence in the above diagram.

    I haven’t looked at Dave Pollard’s blog How to save the world closely yet, although I’ll be sure to do so.

    Thanks for your comments 🙂

  3. Ugh.

    My apologies to anyone trying to read the blog through a feed aggregator, especially Google Reader.

    It seems that such readers do not resize images according to the attributes of the <img> tag, nor do they like hotlinking to the images on the public MimeTex server – probably due to the complex url query string which encode the MimeTex equation language.

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