Friday, August 3, 2007

The Gift to be simple

''Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight."
-Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. (1797-1882 )
Simple Gifts (melody)
Members of the Shaker community embraced a philosophy of simplicity. Their way of living, like their furniture, was "plain in style, durable, and functional".

There has been some discussion recently about the Chicago Graduate School of Business requirement that prospective students submit "up to four slides about themselves with their application". These slides may contain text, pictures, charts, etc. but "bells and whistles such as Flash, video clips, embedded music and hyperlinks won't be considered in the evaluation process".

Michael McVey mourns the loss of creativity such a submission would entail, likening it to "the difference between a butterfly in the wild and one pinned to a board in a display case". He comments that "when you evaluate this creativity based upon two dimensional screen captures devoid of the very creative energy you sought to assess, you might as well have students submit their test scores and forego the technology charade."

In rebuttal, Christian Long links us to Dan Meyer's slide quartet, to prove that it is not only possible, but desirable to stipulate such stringency.

Sophocles ("Much wisdom often goes with brevity of speech.") and Shakespeare ("Brevity is the soul of wit") appear to side with the minimalist faction; Blaise Pascal ("Too great length and too great brevity of discourse tends to obscurity.") and Arthur Koestler ("True creativity often starts where language ends.") would seem to come down on the side of more enriched offerings.

Which should it be: four simple slides or a multi-sensory presentation? The debate continues.

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