What I see us asking (on Quora)

I’m on Quora quite a bit, well pretty much every morning, just to see if anything jumps out. Most questions are dull, unpolished bits of unrefined treacle. Little question droppings that make you wonder why, given a site that’s there for the asking, people want to know such little things.

Or big unanswerables and ponderables whose answer can only possibly be opinion, wild speculation, and conjecture. Questions sometimes barbed or pointed, as if to elicit sharp response and call the enemy into the open.

The questions about biggest, smallest, and other mostest that are manifestations (to me) of complete media saturation — values of a culture surrendering discernment to the “most.” (So often, online, distinctions give way to simplicity. For it communicates faster.)

Which of these, also, makes for a lot of questions — so questions as polls and surveys. Designed for traffic, asked perhaps to provide some amount of reassurance. (Does the asker really not have a preference?)

Sometimes questions lonely and revealing — muted cries for help or posts noting pain. Thoughts submitted perhaps late night and in sweat of despair. Audiences attract that. A community of answerers always has its good souls.

Questions that are propositions, stakes in the philosophical ground, flags to attract the loyals. These questions are rhetorical, and give away the asker, for their purpose is to bind: questions for which there is really only agreement. These rally cries gather the like-minded; signs of a group, of adherents.

Questions, too, for and among fans. In-group and in-the-know types. Questions whose references, queries, either/ors bely some serious amount of expertise on the matter. Fans of LOST are to be cherished — that show was not just a world but several. These questions tell of their asker’s depth of knowledge and domain expertise. They lead to the most excellent rounds of conversation.

Questions too specific. The one’s for which there is an answer so readily google-able it defies comprehension that an individual connected to the internet has chosen Quora for his search. Questions for which there is only a singular response that it could only be that the asker is looking for something else entirely. A connection, just an answer of any kind — sometimes the timid moves of a newcomer. Start simple, see how this goes. (For the only alternative is, hey, you shouldn’t be on the internet.)

These are just some of the things that I see. Questions are so much more than what they ask. Indeed, they provide their own answers.

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  • http://www.newcommbiz.com/ tacanderson

    I too enjoy Quora and I find the questions (their answers actually) I enjoy the most are the ones I never would have thought to ask. 

  • http://www.gravity7.com/blog/media/ gravity7

    Same here — every now and then there’s a great question. You could theorize that there is a category of “great questions” — for how they frame the question, and create many possibilities for answering, maybe in a manner that exceeds the simple consensus building (agree/disagree) that characterizes so many answers. 

    An aesthetics of the question. (In fact Lyotard has written about this in The Differend). Questions frame the answers that meet the conditions set by the question. Some questions set a very open frame. 

    Thanks for pointing that out!

  • http://gplus.to/MetaThis David Jacobs

    I’m still looking for additional answers to one of my questions: 

    What is a pattern?

  • http://www.gravity7.com/blog/media/ gravity7

    Is that a pattern? Looking for additional answers? ;-)