On incomplete arguments

Getting back into the swing of having a daily writing habit up and running seems to have been accomplished. Adventure! It took a bit of time for the act of daily writing to translate to producing something interesting and more focused on a significant narrative thread. It seriously took about 45 days of effort to move from observational prose to a deeper level of thought. The problem at hand was that thinking deeply about society and being ready to write about those thoughts takes time and a lot of internal processing. Perhaps I should have been ready to start working out the problems and limits associated with things left unsaid impacting civil discourse. That is an important element to consider. That probably should have been more obvious at the time, but it took me a little bit of time to work that out. Yesterday I spent some time digging into the idea of asynchronous communication. One of the things that I keep coming back to after thinking deeply about the things that are left unsaid is how even with the best asynchronous communication methods leaving things out creates incomplete arguments. Sometimes you can get to the point without expressing every single part of an argument. People generally will fill in the blanks when necessary to get to the point. Some lines of argumentation are complex enough that they have to be expressed fully and completely like a mathematical proof. Other lines of argument do not fall into that category of completeness.

One of the most hollow and incomplete lines of argument going is the soundbite method of communicating in the media. It is like reading the title of academic papers and expressing from that effort that you understand the argument contained within the pages of text. Seriously, soundbytes capture such a narrow part of an argument that entire foundations and meanings are lost. People walk away from hearing that type of communication and have to fill in the blanks. Problematically they don’t fill in the blanks in the same ways. Read the title of any academic paper in the social sciences and ask the respondents to explain what the paper was about. Those academically trained to question everything and engage in rational discourse would tell you they have not read the paper and stop at that point. Outside of that presentation of logic to stop the process the rest of the respondents will prove you with various expelnations. They could not have a shared explanation unless they colluded before the presentation of explanations. That holds true given that the respondents have no context of the paper outside of the title. Somewhere within that line of argumentation is a bit of truth about the problematic nature of the things that are left unsaid in civil discourse. Engaging in a true debate within the public square without complete representation of arguments would inherently be incomplete. Fragmented discussions and incomplete discussions are the hallmark of media transmissions in the digital age. These two paragraphs are about 500 words in totality. They represent an incomplete argument, but outside of a podcast or long form interview this much content would be trimmed down into a soundbite of some type. 

My writing is not generally designed to be converted into soundbites of any kind. Maybe from time to time a line or two comes across as pithy and insightful enough to be quotable. That is probably an accidental artifact of the writing process and not an intended outcome of my communication methods. These weblog posts are intended to be long form communications of the ideas that are the forefront of my thoughts. Central to that is that almost all of this functional journal content is written via a stream of consciousness based writing process. Literally the words are created from the start of the writing session at the top of the page and stop at the end of the writing sessions wherever that ends up being on the page. This content is written from start to finish in a single writing session. That is how my writing habit translates to prose. Each single serving of prose is then delivered via online posting. Generally that happened without any editing. Pretty much since my 40th birthday I have been engaging in a little bit of editing/proofreading before posting. For the most part this is a new feature of the restarted daily writing process and it involves moving from the end of the block of prose to the beginning and just reading from start to finish to catch things before posting the content online. It probably does not catch all of the little things that should be fixed, but it probably improves the output a little bit and makes it more readable.   

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