Monday, October 31, 2005

Welcome to the 21st Century

The new language being evolved is talking to/with another -- rather than the soliloquy style of the Associated Press and academic style -- which doesn’t recognize and involve the reader in the communication. In a sense, there is no communication going on but rather a one-sided lecture, or dump. The whole objective of that exercise is to display one’s superiority and dominance over the other -- rather than engage the other as a peer, and co-creator of that interaction. In other words, the writer doesn’t just write -- and reader be damned if they don’t understand it. What is centrally important is the shared understanding that should emerge from that interaction/communication.

It has profound implications for other venues such as the schools and universities. Many teachers think their job is to teach -- and the job of the student is to learn, but that it is not an interaction by which a shared understanding is emerging. The old model is just for the superior to insist that the inferior learn his point of view -- as though the student has nothing to contribute to the learning process. The student is simply acted upon by the instructor -- and both roles are reaffirmed. The student acknowledges his inferiority to the superior “master.”

In the new model of 21st century life, every individual plays all the roles, as it is appropriate for him to do so; at times he is the instructor and at others, he is the student. There is no struggle for superiority and dominance that is the justification for that interaction/communication. The tone of that communication tells as much or more than the actual words and arguments -- whether that relationship and regard is exploitative or not. An exploitative relationship seeks to establish that dominance. In a relationship between peers and equals, there is no energy wasted in that struggle -- as is common in much of the animal kingdom. Virtually all their communication and interactions is to establish and maintain that pecking order -- of who is more powerful than the other, on down.

Intelligent people realize such actions and activities are non- and counterproductive. So the object of language is not primarily to establish the superiority and dominance but to empower both. This is the language of the 21st century -- unlike that of the 20th century, dominated by the broadcast media, which gave rise to powerful propaganda campaigns because of this one-sided control of information and communications. That was the horror and abuse of media George Orwell, himself a journalist, warned the world about in his classics, Animal Farm and 1984.

When 1984 actually came around, the media proclaimed, “There is no danger here, everything is fine, we are in control.”


At October 31, 2005 8:08 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I first became aware of that difference in communication styles in the 2000 election -- in which a fairly unassuming George W. Bush, was bullied and disrespected during the debates with Al Gore. Up to that point, I had been a liberal Democrat -- but recognized that something was very wrong in that manner of disrespecting another. It’s actually become the trademark way of relating by the liberals, leftists, Democrats, and the media. It’s what perceptive people have come to call an elitist regard towards everyone else -- “elect, or listen to me because I am so much smarter than you are.”

That might have worked fifty years ago when fewer people were educated -- or when the Ivy League Schools were still the elites of higher education, and that whole Eastern intellectual elitism of the New York Times and Washington Post, would have been imposing and intimidating. Now it is just laughable, and actually shameful and pitiful -- from people who should know better, in a more enlightened age.

You just don't pull that kind of crap anymore -- "of putting people in their place" because there's somebody out there, who will hand you your head.

At November 01, 2005 7:47 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Keep it simple: Key to impressive writing

The Times of India ^ | Tuesday, November 01, 2005 09:27:03 am | IANS

Though copy editors and popular writers have known it for long, an experiment by a psychologist establishes the key to impressive writing - keep it plain and simple.

Writers who use long words needlessly and choose complicated font styles in print are seen as less intelligent than those who employ basic vocabulary and plain text, according to new research from the Princeton University in New Jersey to be published in the next edition of Applied Cognitive Psychology.

In the study titled 'Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly', Daniel Oppenheimer based his findings on students' responses to writing samples for which the complexity of the font or vocabulary was systematically manipulated.

In a series of five experiments, he found that people tended to rate the intelligence of authors who wrote essays in simpler language, using an easy to read font, as higher than those who authored more complex works.

"It's important to point out that this research is not about problems with using long words but about using long words needlessly," Oppenheimer was quoted as saying.

"Anything that makes a text hard to read and understand, such as unnecessarily long words or complicated fonts, will lower readers' evaluations of the text and its author."

The samples of text included graduate school applications, sociology dissertation abstracts, and translations of a work of Descartes. Times New Roman and italicized Juice font were used in samples to further assess the effect of fluency on rating levels.

Interestingly, by making people aware that the source of low fluency was irrelevant to judgement, Oppenheimer found that they overcompensated and became biased in the opposite direction.

In a final experiment, he provided samples of text printed with normal and low printer toner levels. The low toner levels made the text harder to read, but readers were able to identify the toner as being responsible for the difficulty, and therefore didn't blame the authors.

"One thing seems certain: write as simply and plainly as possible and it's more likely you'll be thought of as intelligent," Oppenheimer said.

At November 01, 2005 8:07 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

You wonder sometimes, whether these people have any idea of what they are talking about:

"In the study titled 'Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly', Daniel Oppenheimer based his findings on students' responses to writing samples for which the complexity of the font or vocabulary was systematically manipulated."


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