Tim Bray’s Law of Explanation

Earlier this summer, XML co-inventor and director of Web Technologies at Sun, Tim Bray was asked to give a convocation speech at his Alma Mater.

The whole speech is excellent, but the part that particularly resonated with me was his “Law of Explanation”

The first half says “When you’re explaining something to somebody and they don’t get it, that’s not their problem, it’s your problem.” Anything that’s important, that’s deep enough to matter, is probably not self-evident; it’s going to require a lot of explanation, and that’s an essential part of your job.

The second half says “When someone’s explaining something to you and you’re not getting it, that’s not your problem, it’s their problem.”  The effect of this one is that you have to do a very courageous thing: say “No, I don’t understand.”

Very well captured.

Pau for now…

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