Tom Friedman from Cairo

There are so many awesome Charlie Rose segments. A couple days ago Tom Friedman was on the show in Cairo. I watched the first 20 minutes. I had two reactions.

1) Friedman's enthusiasm for the revolution in Egypt is absolutely contagious.

2) His use of metaphor and imagery to convey points is so effective. Listen for "you never wash a rented car" or "they're going to have to pay retail, not wholesale." He's the king of metaphor in his writing. Seeing him deploy metaphors so effectively in real-time lends further credence to the idea that one can train to think in metaphors, not just write or speak in metaphors.

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5 Responses to Tom Friedman from Cairo

  1. Nathan Labenz says:

    Do you think it’s a good idea to train oneself to think in metaphor? I fear that I might come to trust my analogies more than I should. For example, should we trust intuitions about Egypt’s future that we derive from our knowledge of retail / wholesale? Even if our knowledge of retail / wholesale is strong, this seems very risky.

    Still, I’m open to arguments in favor.

  2. Krishna Mony says:

    Some metaphors drive home the point better, enable easier understanding of a complex subject…

    Here’s one example from Vinnie Mirchandani, blogger and author of “The New Polymath” on seeing captive BPO’s of large enterprises as losers since they were selling out to large IT outsourcing vendors like IBM, Accenture, Infosys, Wipro etc. –

    “Would you say home cooking is bad because the restaurants are doing well..?”

    It drove home the point finely even to any average Joe that has nothing to do with software/BPO domain…

  3. Ben Casnocha says:

    You trade off precision and accuracy with being able to remember the
    essence. In the case of the Egypt situation, because I / you do not need
    to have an ultra-precise understanding of the situation, I think metaphor
    is very useful. And of course, metaphors themselves can be of various
    levels of precision…

  4. Noumenon says:

    You must not frequent the corners of the web that regard Friedman’s terribly mixed metaphors as the worst feature of his writing. Started out with Matt Taibbi’s mockery in 2003 and just this month I saw someone reduce his column down to just the metaphors to prove how muddled and inapt they are.

  5. Ben Casnocha says:

    I've read the critiques, and I disagree with them.

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