by • 8 Sep, 2011 • People, Thoughts about museumsComments (4)7808

On wine, coding and simple questions

This week I did a wine tasting with a Dutch wine critic. That was fun. Of course we talked about the difference between supermarket wines, new-world wines, old-world wines etc. Regardless of tasting over seven thousand wines per year and obviously having a very refined taste in wine, our host applauded the simple unpretentious wines most people drink. He mentioned how his very first wine came from a carton. It’s simple and cheap wine that might be the first step of a life-altering journey through the wonderful world of wines.

(He also repeatedly mentioned that a lack of knowledge about wine is completely unrelated to a good taste for wine. Even beginners easily distinguish the good from the bad when testing blind. I think the same applies to (all) arts and culture.)

I recently fell in love with Codecademy. Not, because I’m keen to learn JavaScript, but because the very first thing their website does is to ask me to participate in the simplest way possible: by writing my name. Then, five or six of the simplest tasks later, I have earned a badge, connected my Facebook account and become addicted to (learning how to) code.

For an expert it’s tempting to ask challenging questions, “What is your favourite Monet painting?” or “Which historical figure do you think is represented on this vase?” Challenging questions might provide new insights (to the expert). The answers to simple questions rarely surprise.

Last year we ran simple contests on Twitter. We asked a music-related question and a correct answer gave the opportunity of entry tickets to an event. You’ve done this as well; you know what I mean. Looking back, it was the simplest and most obvious question that triggered the best response. Not only in the number of correct answers, but also in the social buzz around the question. People liked answering a simple question.

Maybe the first step in many flourishing relationships with your audience is to pour them a glass of vin de table and ask for their name. It’s the simple that gets the masses involved. Later, when they’ve earned some badges, there’s enough time to uncork the premier cru and ask after the light in that beautiful Vermeer painting.

Photo by Wendell (lurking) on Flickr.

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