“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.”
~ Alfred A. Montapert
The above quotation came to mind when driving to work with my oldest son, who also works in our law office. It came to mind because we have been working together on a criminal case where sentencing of the defendant, let’s call him John, is to happen shortly. As the sentencing date has drawn nearer, the trickle of emails from John to my son and myself has turned into a flood: queries, suggestions, advice, comments, copied documents and repeat sends of what has already been supplied by him in the pest. I appreciate that in his mind he is doing whatever he can to assist but it is a good illustration of the above quotation.
The problem with confusing motion with progress is that there is a belief that something positive is being done when, in reality, it is having the reverse effect. Not only does it take time away from possibly more productive avenues , it also creates an environment where something that is of value might be overlooked.
Last week I published some quotations about the Information Age, mentioning that one of the problems of the information explosion is sorting out quality and relevance from volume. That applies equally to communications. In the past we communicated by mail, then by telegraph, telephone, then by facsimile. Today we communicate in much faster and more immediate ways: email, twitter, Facebook, skype, SMS . . . but, as our communications have become faster and cheaper, quality has been reduced by volume. A continuing string of email exchanges takes the place of a telephone call, which in turn took the place of a letter.
Rocking horse motion can apply equally to electronic communications.