Wiio’s Law: Communication usually fails, except by accident

Just found this interesting set of laws, called Wiio’s laws:

  1. Communication usually fails, except by accident.
    • If communication can fail, it will.
    • If communication cannot fail, it still most usually fails.
    • If communication seems to succeed in the intended way, there’s a misunderstanding.
    • If you are content with your message, communication certainly fails.
  2. If a message can be interpreted in several ways, it will be interpreted in a manner that maximizes the damage.
  3. There is always someone who knows better than you what you meant with your message.
  4. The more we communicate, the worse communication succeeds.
    • The more we communicate, the faster misunderstandings propagate.
  5. In mass communication, the important thing is not how things are but how they seem to be.
  6. The importance of a news item is inversely proportional to the square of the distance.
  7. The more important the situation is, the more probably you forget an essential thing that you remembered a moment ago.

And there are three corollaries by Korpela:

  1. If nobody barks at you, your message did not get through
  2. Search for information fails, except by accident
  3. Give the student a chance to realize he misunderstood it all

These are all taken from this blog post.

At this time, I don’t have any thing else to add to these laws. But I’m sure that in the years to come, I am going to quote Wiio’s laws #1 and #2, and Korpela’s corollary #1 repeatedly to people. (Just like I love to quote the Three Chinese Curses:

  • Third Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times
  • Second Chinese curse: May you come to the attention of important people
  • First (and most dangerous) Chinese curse: May you get what you wish for

And this concludes my first ever parenthetical remark which has a bullet list embedded in it (And also concludes this blog post))

4 thoughts on “Wiio’s Law: Communication usually fails, except by accident”

    1. Naweed,
      Remember the maxim: “Prepare for the worse, hope for the best.” You need pessimists like Wiio to be able to do a good job of preparing for the worst ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Navin,

    Thanks for the reply.

    The perpetual debate of “Is Murphy a pessimist?” comes to mind. I agree with your view that we should prepare of the worse and hope for the best, but somehow Wiio seems to lack the element of hope.

    Perhaps it will be wonderful to inject the hope factor into his laws, and govern our lives accordingly. ๐Ÿ™‚

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