In Praise of Wishy-Washy

One of the things I like about the world now that blogging has given us a platform to state our opinions, is how deliciously diverse and opinionated we all are! For better or worse, I however am infused with the ability to see both sides; unable to view the world in black and white, but rather in “millions of colors” just like my computer monitor. Jason Fried, of 37Signals is one of the more opinionated people I read now and then.

I attended the very first workshop they ever held (they used my testimonial for years), on web usability, and am a very enthusiastic user of their Basecamp project management software. If you haven’t tried it, I heartily recommend it! Though if Jason (or many other internet literati) were writing this, the advice would be more like, “You MUST try this software!”

In fact, today’s post is inspired by this post on Jason’s blog, from which I quote:

bq. It’s nice to read someone who says “do it this way” instead of being wishy-washy.

He was referring to the book, Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst. Mark recommends, for example, getting your Inbox down to zero messages at least once a day. (I am not even going to go there.) However reading through the comments, it is plain to see the pros and cons of Mark’s method, and the people for whom it is brilliant all the way to out-dated.

It’s great the book takes a stand and I love it when people Do take a stand, it’s just problematic when people think their stand applies to everyone else. That’s where I come in, just like the commenters, and de-construct the actual topic to help determine if “just doing it this way” is going to be more useful or more irritating to YOU.

There is plenty of advice on the internet. Being willing and able to filter it while seeing both sides may be called wishy-washy in some circles, but to me, is %(hilight )simply personalization%. I also this type of engagement is more adult, more peer to peer, whereas just telling people what to do is rather parental, top-down style of thinking. We are all free to be bossy; in fact many of us like being told what to do once we have signed on to your ideas. It seems easier, for a moment or two, until more people, more facts, start pouring in.

Where do you fall along this spectrum? Do you like absolutes and being told what to do? Or do you see the value in sorting through something to get to the specifics, the case-by-case-ness of it? In one sense, it’s like having a blog with comments turned off – you just issue your opinions, versus having comments open, where people are encouraged to submit their own perspectives. And in fairness to Jason, Basecamp would not be the fantastic tool it is if they hadn’t regularly listened to their very opinionated users.

Which really closes this post for me: even when you try to be really “just do it this way” it’s hard to actually get away with it. And that’s my opinion! What is yours?

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