Hobby Horses

I used to work for Arnold de Leon. He has a method of teaching his coworkers lessons that Dave Winer just explained:

Moore did coin a new phrase, and like all good bloggers wanting to initialize a new meme, he repeats it over and over. This is not a new idea. Jake Savin was a music major at Reed College. He told me his composition teacher taught him that a good theme is worth repeating, many times.

When Arnold had a lesson that he wanted to impart into people’s brains like a searing brand, he’d come up with a catchy jingo. Then he’d tell the story of what got him thinking about it in a staff meeting, and sprinkle the jingo into it over and over. Then for the next week, you might hear his loud voice echoing down the hall punctuating the same story, or a new occurrence of the same idea, with the same jingo.

For some reason, he referred to this process as “getting on a hobby horse” about the topic. I never really understood the “hobby horse” part, but I watched his technique work from time to time. Its success seemed to depend both on the quality of the jingo and the relevance of the thought behind it. Not relevant enough and it didn’t come up enough times in a short enough time to take root in our brains.


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