Triangulation and dialogue

Chris Burford cburford at
Thu Jul 13 20:38:01 MDT 1995

Hello Jim,

Yes we did get rather nasty two weeks ago, and I was cautiously but
pleasantly surprised that you wrote to me. Since we are both
interested in the law of value and our names have been mentioned
about a FAQ list it would help to be in some dialogue.

I, like others, I guess, have been noting your patience in trying another
style of communicating over the last couple of weeks, which I am sure has
not been easy because there is nothing to say that the prevailing style
on this list is perfect. However if you are to contribute effectively I
think it is wise to tune into the prevailing style, as well as exploring
some of the variants.

I am not sure what you felt was the latest barb but I thought Andy
Daitsman spoke up for you a bit.

I hope you are not appealing to me because I am the peckingest of the
pecking order :) . I thought that was an interesting remark because there
was something to it. There is not a pecking order but there is a network,
or rather a number of overlapping networks of mutual recognition and
respect. None of us knows how many people will be bored or contemptuous of
our next post, but gradually an awareness builds up of what passes, and the
positive feedbacks build recognition. The list would break however if we
all gave positive recognition to every post we thought was positive.

I have just been corresponding privately encouraging someone to contribute
who says he is uninhibited on Usenet but somehow holds back here. My
main assumption about you, Jim J, is that you built up a fluency on other
lists, of a quick fire nature, and were frustrated to find that the style
was not welcomed with opened arms here.

I do think you have raised lots of important points but if you feel
frustrated at still not getting as much recognition as you would like,
I would suggest there are still some problems which you may like to
think about.

1. There is not one perfect length. Most replies are too long for
maximum accessibility, including I am sure my own, but people can be
selective. Short replies are very effective sometimes, but I guess your
contributions would be strengthened if you posted a little less,
and developed an argument over two or three paragraphs.

2. Allusions. I like to drop many allusions, and in a very different style,
so do you. I guess the problem occurs if there is an expectation that
others should necessarily understand them. In your reply on "tercerist",
you seemed to say you expected everyone to understand this. If I recall
rightly Louis has actually also put in a lot of time in supporting the
Sandanistas, or, sorry Louis, some Latin American progressive group, with
computer techniques. His question was a little sharp but perhaps it
brought out something about the communications problem, and you will have
a chance of communicating with him again as you have with me now.

It reminded me of one angry point in your angry response to me two weeks
ago, aha, I have just found it, Sunday 25th June:

> What on earth does "hnyuck, nyuck" mean?

	It's something the Three Stooges would say, fool. (why fool? Read

Now I have never heard of the Three Stooges, any more than I have
heard of tercerism. Is it some long lost novel by Dostoyevsky? I know
you were very angry and I did not really mind, and I have had a good
laugh now, but why did you call me a fool, because among other things
I had never heard of the Three Stooges? There is an element of slapstick
in all of this.

What I assumed was that this was a television programme
or a cartoon that was part of a common North American culture and you
had not yet noticed I was signing in from elsewhere, and thought I must
be a fool for not sharing that culture on this point. I think it is
worth making this problem explicit and that is one of the reasons I am
not replying privately, because I think for all sorts of relatively
deterministic economic reasons, this list will remain dominated by
contributers from the USA, and how it is actively open to the minorities
from outside that cultural matrix, may influence its effectiveness to
a significant degree as months start to turn into years.

[Hey, it's
coming up to the anniversary. Must send Jon a card. Good God, it is
the anniversary.]

It's the way it is done that makes a difference and whether everyone
remembers that their own viewpoint and set of experiences is unique to
them and not necessarily shared with others.

I get the impression that you are fluent in aspects of the internet, I
am not, and I confess, for fear of appearing a fool I did not ask
you what an FAQ is. I did ask Steve Keen, who gently explained that
it is a frequently asked question. I had vaguely thought it sounded
like a frequently performed activity.

Jim, when are you going to allow yourself to appear foolish on this
list? Its OK in small doses, and quite liberating.


When I decided the moment in history had come for me to join the internet
in October last year I spent some time in a beginners class in
Compuserve, on internet etiquette. I did not understand how they could
be so dogmatic to say that capitals are read as shouting, but from
experience I would say I agree. Some psychological studies show that
small case is understood quicker on signs. Any way I find your frequent
use of capitals like shouting and my eyes blurr over. Very few other
people on this list use capitals as you do. Ralph does for all his titles.
And my guess, extrapolating from my sample of one, myself, is that many
others of your readers on this list, Jim, will hear you as shouting.

I think what is really happening is that you have not learned the code
for handling conflict in this group, a code which is usually hidden from
most newcomers to groups and which is often experienced as baffling or
controlling. I think you want to highlight key words in your brief
communications to pinpoint the crucial concept for quick clarification.
But you do it with CAPITALS rather than *asterisks* or _underlining_.

I remember reading an exchange in the archives, when I was trying to
understand what had been going on in the argument on the law of value
in July and August, where Steve Keen had taken exception to a post
by Rakesh, who I personally find a very non-combative contributor.
Really my impression was that it was the use of capitals, and the
codes had been misread between the two of them.

Anyway, I must post my card to Jon.

Take care, as he would say.

Chris Burford.


From: Jim Jaszewski <ab975 at>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 04:29:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Triangulation & our Prisoner's Dilemma

	The original message was from 2 weeks ago.

On Fri, 30 Jun 1995, Chris Burford wrote:

	[Much deleted]

> It is for that reason that I think Scott should hear very critical voices
> about what is negative in his contribution, but he should also hear
> voices trying to accept what is positive in his contribution.

	That was a very nice speech, CB, and I pretty much agree with all
of it. But, look what's just happened to me: A few individuals have been
sniping at me for a while, and I've pretty much been trying to ride it --
until today (I felt that the latest one was beyond the Pale...)

	Don't you think this all pretty much runs contrary to the
reasonable attitude outlined above?? (This is 2 weeks after you wrote that
- -- about the same time _WE_ got nasty??)

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