Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Are we communicating?

The active party in any communication is the recipient. -----  Peter Drucker, business guru.

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For your amusement

Can you raed tihs? Tehre are mnay sepllnig erorrs but the fsirt and lsat ltteers of ecah wrod are crorcelty psotinoied. It truns out taht is waht is ipmrotnat in gettnig othres to udernsantd what you wrtie. Is trehe an alanog for taehcnig with tehcolngoy?

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The first day of class I spent a little time talking about the results of a search at Google Scholar on my name, "Lanny Arvan."  In that discussion I said that if you tried to read any of the papers there, you likely couldn't penetrate them, at least the ones in Econ journals.  Those papers are written for professional economists (meaning a PhD in economics is presumed).  It is an example of insiders writing for other insiders.

The skill we want students to develop is generalist writing.  This means the writer has specialty skills (is an insider) but the readers don't necessarily have those skills.  This is the sort of writing I expect in the blogging and it is the sort of skill that all students at the U of I need to develop.

There are two things to do to learn how to do this.  One is to read as a generalist - a lot.  Newspapers produce writing of this sort.  So do many magazines.  The more generalist sort of reading you do, the better.  One of the most important things you learn this way is the type of writing that appeals to you.  Developing a sense of taste as to what constitutes good generalist writing is very important.  When you write, you will do so in accord with your own sense of taste.  Reading a lot of generalist writing develops your own sense of taste.

The other thing is to write a lot of generalist writing.  The blogging we will do in class might be a good starting point on that.  I hope that after a while, you begin to enjoy it, even though it takes time and forethought.  If you do enjoy it, then you might do more of it on your own.  You need to do that to get better in crafting what you write.  That is a learned skill.  The learning is by doing.

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