The Daily Zen #4 “The Murky Middle Ground”

Day four of my daily posts and still going strong. I’ve decided I’ll start numbering these posts and include a subtitle, and I’ll retroactively go back and do it for the previous three posts. Thanks to The Typist for giving me the idea. Ok, I’m back to focusing on a single issue today, a little introspection about the viewpoints in my writing. Let us begin.

I’ve been a little worried that in the last month of two I might have been overly critical in some of my posts. (See here, here, and here). I’ve been poking the Apple/tech community a bit, trying to point out different ways to look at some of their established views. However, I don’t want to come off as a bitter outsider, because I actually love most people in the community and share many of their views about aesthetics, design, quality, etc. In my “Concentric Circles” post I needled John Gruber a little as maybe having too much influence, but really it’s not his fault he is so popular. It’s the community that has formed around him for various reasons and he simply is riding the wave. I still love Gruber and think he deserves to be a strong voice, but I wish there were even more voices allowed in the conversation, especially ones that may look at things different and bring entirely new ideas to the table.

It’s got me thinking about the fact that, in most situations, the middle view carries the most truth. For example, when I posit that more voices are needed in the Apple community, the counter-argument is that a community also needs a core group of strong voices, leaders that can consolidate the views, otherwise you have complete chaos. If you continue this debate, you’ll realize that giving everyone an equal voice doesn’t work, but given too few people voices also doesn’t work. The truth is somewhere in that gray, murky middle ground. However, most people don’t want to read blog posts that straddle the middle, they want you to pick a side. That’s just human nature, we gravitate towards certain viewpoints and enjoy people who can give strong defenses of those viewpoints.

That’s what I sometimes struggle with when I’m trying to write a post that carries a viewpoint. I can usually see and understand both sides of an issue, but I realize I need to turn the knob slightly in one direction, or else my post will be a wishy-washy mess. I can’t always try to reach absolute truth on an issue, because the truth is almost never clear cut. The most I can really do is point out certain aspects of an issue I think should be given attention, knowing that I can never give the complete picture. Ideally, my viewpoint will give a little spark in my readers’ minds, letting them see an issue in a different way then they might have otherwise. My best posts are the ones that create a healthy (and civil) debate, which hopefully leads everyone a step closer to that elusive truth.

Old Podcast of the Day: The New Disruptors “No Kind of Work for a Grown Man.” Speaking of Gruber, I’ll link to this great interview of him where he goes through an in depth look at how he grew Daring Fireball to where it is now. For a number of years he was riding along the outer circles of the community, just like most of us are now.

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