Collaborative Writing is “…A Different Kettle of Shoes”

Thanks to Robbin Zeff Warner for posting the  “…A Different Kettle of Shoes” entry from her husband Gene’s  Innocents Abroad  blog to the Writing Program Administrators discussion list.  

Gene captures something essential about the nature of collaborative writing, there.  What’s true of NATO’s collaborators is true–if on a somewhat smaller scale–of most all instances of writing by committee: in the push to honor every sensitivity, include every perspective, address every fear, and anticipate every possible political objection, we inevitably sacrifice clarity.  

For all its joys, collaboration always involves some risks. AxisPortals sometimes thinks the story of the The Blind Men and the Elephant should be meditated upon prior to any committee meeting that will result in a collaboratively written document.  Most committees can’t quite claim NATO’s brand of international, multilingual diversity, but when various disciplines, departments, or brands of expertise are present, the result is the same.  

That’s one “kettle of shoes” in which lots of us have walked a kilometer or two.

AxisPortals Aphorism:  With a clear sense of purpose, an appreciation of the risks,  and an excellent sense of humor, one can enjoy the delights of collaborative writing without creating elaphantine sentences that few will appreciate, and fewer still will understand.    

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