Today, I got this in my /msg list. I would like to discuss it:
2001.10.26@01:33 Klaproth says I ate your writeup "Albert Einstein Quotes" because it's a quote node, which we are trying to eradicate. It will soon rest in Node Heaven.
Don't think I'm ranting and raving, or even angry. I just find it dismaying that we would find something not worthy of existence here because someone else said it. I would ask any one of you who finds that this particular quote, listed below, is not worthy of its continued existence on e2 to go look at your own personal list of nodes. Find one or two that are less worthy. I'm sure that if you honestly evaluate your nodes, you will.
I'm relatively dismayed that some of my own nodes which talk about such trivialities as my dog getting lost, or how I used to get my Atari games to work again, or how I used to be a lot thinner, or even my complaining about XP are allowed to continue to exist. Is someone else going to find the fact that I was once thinner much more interesting than the fact that Einstein quite succinctly explained the difficulty in explaining abstract concepts using a simple language. I also believe in the idea that by annotating a story, you often ruin the effect of the story. I could point you to several koans that explain why (I would also refuse to annotate them).
Perhaps the title of the node was poor, in that it was indexed by Einsten's Quotes. That may be, in which case I will happily put the node somewhere else. If that's the only thing preventing this node's continued existence, I will scratch my head and find a more accurate title. The difficulty with noding a quote is that it doesn't actually have a title. A good quote is often just as long as a story, but a piece of fiction has an easy to identify title. The quote below is longer than many stories, which I'm sure very few of you would agree should continue to exist.
I do not wish to offend any of you, but I am positive that if this place were to become merely a repository of the words of our assembled userbase, with no quotes from the outside world, we would have a nearly useless database. If we're not quoting the outside world, we're going to at least talk about it. What is the purpose of e2? I had believed, in some part, it is to become a repository of that which is interesting to the userbase. I've used it in the past to look up obscure pop-culture references, it's utterly amazing for that. In browsing, I have found out things I wasn't looking for in the first place. It increases knowledge.
Many times, a good quote serves the same purpose. It generally causes you to improve yourself, by thinking in a new fashion. A short, "quote" from a well spoken individual will teach me more effectively than a longer essay. I've spent more words arguing for the existence of quotes, and probably had less of an effect on your thinking than the quote below has, regarding its own subject.
And for those who would argue against quotes because it's NFN, keep in mind that the quote below was part of my little mini-project to inject a little bit of zen into the database. I looked through my books, and did a little bit of internet searching, so that I could put in things that influenced my own thinking. I found a quote from Einstein in one of my books, so I put it in. I put it in an existing node, rather than create a new one for it. But, during that same "Let's node short bits of fiction that show zen thought," I ran across many other nodes written by some of the biggies of our little world. In fact, a few of my nodes got nuked because they duplicated nodes by these people, which at the time, I was unable to find... after requesting those nodes to get nuked, I did a bit of softlinking. I did it with the intent to add knowledge to the database, I acted in good faith as a citizen of e2 to softlink instead of node, when possible, and to only create nodes which added knowledge. I am a very "old" user here, but mostly a lurker. I might be accused of NFN, but I don't see myself as doing such.
So, thank you, have a good day, do not think of me as whining, I am merely trying to convince you of my viewpoint. If I fail to do so, I will continue doing what I enjoy doing on e2, and should someone ask me to stop, I will. No threats, no asamoth behavior, no ultimatums, no requirements on you, the reader, or the editors, or the gods. I am merely one user with a relatively strong opinion, and a high regard for at least one little speech given by Einstein.
Node presented as below as transcribed by me, late at night. Forgive the complete lack of links and the possibilities of typos or formatting errors. The one that will soon rest in node heaven, doesn't yet rest there. (UPDATE: This node is now at The difficulty of explaining abstract concepts.)
Not long after his arrival in Princeton he was invited, by the wife of one of the professors of mathematics at Princeton, to be guest of honor at a tea.-Reluctantly, Einstein consented. After the tea had progressed for a time, the excited hostess, thrilled to have such an eminent guest of honor, fluttered out into the center of activity and with raised arms silenced the group. Bubbling out some words expressing her thrill and pleasure, she turned to Einstein and said: "I wonder, Dr. Einstein, if you would be so kind as to explain to my guests in a few words, just what is relativity theory ? "
Without any hesitation Einstein rose to his feet and told a story. He said he was reminded of a walk he one day had with his blind friend. The day was hot and he turned to the blind friend and said, "I wish I had a glass of milk."
"Glass," replied the blind friend, "I know what that is. But what do you mean by milk?"
"Why, milk is a white fluid," explained Einstein.
"Now fluid, I know what that is," said the blind man. "but what is white ? "
"Oh, white is the color of a swan's feathers."
"Feathers, now I know what they are, but what is a swan ? "
"A swan is a bird with a crooked neck."
"Neck, I know what that is, but what do you mean by crooked ? "
At this point Einstein said he lost his patience. He seized his blind friend's arm and pulled it straight. "There, now your arm is straight," he said. Then he bent the blind friend's arm at the elbow. "Now it is crooked."
"Ah," said the blind friend. "Now I know what milk is."
And Einstein, at the tea, sat down.