omnipresent outlines


The topic du jour in blogaria...and in my house, it outlines.

Doc says all blogs are outlines. The Supernova bloggers all seemed to report some version of Dave Winer saying that "everything is an outline."

So this morning, I decided to try the OmniOutliner tool that I read about on Joi's blog.

Here's the scary part. As I was reading through the docs, and trying to puzzle out the tool, my six-year-old son Alex was lying on the prayer rug in our living room, tracing the designs with his finger. And he suddenly said "Mom, why does everything have to have an outline?"

Huh? He couldn't see my screen from where he's sitting. I was temporarily speechless, since he seemed to have given voice to my thoughts, and I couldn't fathom how that had happened.

Then I realized that he was talking about the outlines of the images on the rug.

So here's the dialog that followed...

Me: They don't.

Alex: Name one thing that doesn't.

Me: Air.

Alex: [frustrated sigh] I mean things you can see.

Me: Well, what do you mean by "an outline"?

Alex: [in voice reserved for talking with very stupid adults] An *outline*, mom. You *know* what I mean.

Me: Well, if you mean an edge, or a boundary, you may be right. If you mean a line around the outside, lots of things don't have an the chair you're next to.

Alex: That's *not* what I mean. You just don't get it.

[Which, alas, seems to be true more and more often as they get older.]


Well, are you going to explore the issue? I imagine it's worth some thought: What does an outline have in common with an outline? (Joke.) Or more seriously, what happens to vision when the boundaries are set in advance? Shakespeare often writes about the resulting distortions -- remember Othello and the handkerchief, Claudio's willingness to believe ill of Hero (In Much Ado About Nothing), Shylock's fixation on the letter of the law in the Merchant of Venice. Talk about boundaries! Remember Frost's "Something there is that doesn't love a wall"? If you want to theorize blogs, the very name of which goes over the edge, maybe you need to think radically beyond the outline/inline distinction.

Anyway, it's a great post, that bit of conversation! These days when Alex draws, does he always start from the outline?

Yes, in fact, the outline/boundary thing has been floating around in my head all day, waiting for me to give it voice. Probably tomorrow. (Had planned on it tonight, but the words aren't coming. So instead am celebrating my appointment to the faculty at the University of Blogaria. :-)

Excellent post. And welcome to Blog U!

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This page contains a single entry published on December 14, 2002 12:45 PM.

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