Form or Function?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Form or Function? How about Form and Function?

The eternal fight between form and function. Between show and effectiveness. Between being followed by a herd with questionable loyalty, and walking with a small group with unwavering conviction in your vision.

Here’s a fancy looking video by HBX, Harvard‘s online programs platform. Professor Christensen undoubtedly sounds like someone I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to interact with and learn from. But the fact that even the likes of Harvard need movie-like videos to showcase the capabilities of a brilliant mind in order to sell a course, is a reflection of the superficial and attention-deficit times we live in.

Another rather painful habit is the one followed by the likes of Business Insider quite often. Apart from some very interesting articles, they also tend to hype the hell out of some random topic, using a catchy title and snippet. You’re tempted to click on it, only to find some absolutely boring or obvious view or reason about the story behind the title.

I for one, now actively avoid any such catchy but vague sounding snippet or title.

And then there are posts like Seth Godin‘s. No images, which, as per recent social media strategy “gurus”, would be nothing short of criminal. Experts will tell you how a picture is worth a thousand words. How a video would be so much more impactful. And some might even ask you to throw in a quote or two. And not just any quotes, but quotes quoted by..You! (what works better than bragging anyway, right?)

And while it is nothing short of an honour, when someone quotes you; there are few things as ridiculous as quoting yourself. Or asking your friends and industry colleagues to quote you. But that still goes on. So even if some of you can’t stop asking people to quote you, at least refrain from quoting yourself. That’s like walking up to your polling booth during election time, and asking for an option to vote yourself Prime Minister or President.

Coming back to Seth’s posts. They don’t have any images, and at barely 2-4 paragraphs, are far crisper and always impactful. Compare that with some standard blog analytics tools that give a red alert when you haven’t typed in a “minimum 300 words”. His posts are pure gold. They don’t need the crutches of pictures, videos, fancy or titillating titles or quotes or anything else to support them. They simply urge you to reflect, to question, and to improve.

And that’s what is lacking in the world today. We are becoming increasingly about cheaper, attention-grabbing tactics; and lesser about quality, long-term effectiveness.

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A to B to C

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A to B to C

This one is in connection to some earlier posts on ‘Impactful brevity’ and on effective communication (So what’s your Point?). A friend recently sent me a hilarious video on WhatsApp that somehow reminded me of an incident from high school that I was surprised I remembered. Wonder how the memory had managed to survive in the junk in my head for so long.

Here’s what had happened. During a Physics lecture somewhere in high-school, our teacher was explaining to us, the oscillation of a pendulum. We drew the oscillating pendulum, which looked something like the one below, and we noted the definition as instructed, which read something like, “one oscillation of the pendulum, is when the pendulum moves from point A-C-A-B-A, or from B-A-C-A-B, or from C-A-B-A-C.” The definition seemed a little amusing, but I guess there weren’t many other ways to define it

image: TutorVista.com

While studying for the upcoming test, and this was probably the simplest definition; a realization hit me. It was that the definition completely depended on the drawing or image, and that it would be meaningless without it. Then another thought hit me. That I was probably really stupid to make such a big deal of something so obvious.

When we got our test scores, having scored reasonably well, I was quite upbeat. The teacher, while reviewing overall performance, mentioned the question on oscillation. I wondered, the definition couldn’t possibly have gotten any easier, so why was he bothering to mention that. He said, that a good number of students in class had defined oscillation with the ‘A-C-……’ definition, but had not drawn the diagram, and hence their definition was meaningless, and it didn’t get them any scores for that answer. Damn, I thought. Suddenly, my realization didn’t feel all that stupid.

Here’s the funny video that reminded me of it. Hope you enjoy a good laugh, like I did. And yeah, things aren’t always as obvious as they might seem.

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Look forward to your views. And if you liked this one, consider following/subscribing to my blog (top right of the page). You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.