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On ‘FAIL’

July 28, 2008

So I caught a tweet by @kathysierra today, referencing a post by @ryancarson, to whit, bitching about how the current idiom of “FAIL” to express disappointment/displeasure with a company/person/action/whatever is an easy way to slander without proposing a solution.

I think @ryancarson is wrong on his take on “fail” as a message and communication of disappointment, especially in the context of Twitter as a whole, and that a single “stuff happened, FAIL” is much higher bandwidth than he gives credit for.

Specifically, it encourages crititcal thinking on the part of the viewer. Here is a person who is disappointed and unhappy with a series of events, in particular their “stuff happened”, and with a single word, “fail”, they have stated that disappointment in a manner that directly communicates “this should not have happened.”

We may not know the situation, but we definitely realize that, no, whatever it is is a failure and shouldn’t have happened.

This simple expression basically kick-starts our brain to start filling in the blanks. The lack of a satisfactory ending to the story of failure pushes us to create our own, to analyze and explore the situation further than we would have otherwise. What caused this? How could we fix it? What can we do to prevent it on our own?

My own mental representation resembles, instead of a single bundle of self-contained information, a molecule, a fragment with hooks that catch onto my own brain, my own experiences, pulling my own knowledge base into a deeper relationship with the experience presented, giving me the opportunity to consider actions and reactions on a deeper level than I would otherwise experience.

How’s it work for you?

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