For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn

Brevity is part of modern living. It’s in our architecture, transport, social media experiences: we are driven by the need to make communication with our world as efficient as it can be. From Plato’s dialogic structure to Twitter poetry, clear communication is essential to the development of world-changing ideas. This is now more important than ever, considering this age of information saturation.

Hemingway was a pioneer of brevity, famously coining the six-word novel (the title of this blog). His longer works are masterful pieces of stripped realism from which we can learn. In the Hemingway machinery everything has a purpose.

“Few things in life are less efficient than a group of people trying to write a sentence. The advantage of this method is that you end up with something for which you will not be personally blamed.” Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert

Similarly with open innovation, being succinct is a sure way to promote an enthusiastic and focused environment for collaboration. This manner of exploration is time efficient, assertive even.

As brevity is akin to conviction in one’s knowledge, only clarity is then needed when communicating good ideas. Considered from a collaborative angle, this is invaluable as this leaves little space within the ideas for exclusionary or possessive language[1].

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” George Bernard Shaw

This means that ownership dissipates and discussion becomes a shared experience in which all involved become equally passionate and engaged with an idea from a singular source. Interactions must be clear in order for any real thing to begin to exist.


By Magdalen Simoes-Brown


Photo credit: The Lancia Motor Club

[1] See John Keats’s theory of Negative Capability as well as Roland Barthes’s Death of the Author


  1. Great blog – Hemingway’s six-word story is beautifully simple. Thanks for bringing it to the fore. Perhaps there’s a tool in there somewhere!!!

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