Thinking about communication

The art of writing letters has been lost. 

Dear Reader, 

People seem to have forgotten how to debate in general communication. It seems that all conversation is directional in nature vs. providing some solid type of given and take. People are often directing others or trying to move the trajectory of an argument by pushing the very end of the argument as a slogan or aphorism. This type of directional effort falls short of convincing people of anything due to the hollow nature of it without the supporting foundation. That is one of the reasons that the media has been breaking down as an institution. Ongoing narratives have broken down and the foundation and background of an argument no longer fit into a sound byte or the space between commercial breaks allows communication to suffer and the people to be less informed. 

Maybe in some ways it feels like every conversation is for all the marbles and the national dialogue is the local dialogue. This obviously is problematic for a number of reasons. I started to think about how the art of writing letters has been lost. Imagine somebody sitting down and having to put everything together in one submission of thought to another person. Each of them having as much time as necessary to complete the communication cycle. In this case of a letter writing cycle the communication method was not as instant as an email, text, audio, or video. Even if people did sit down to write comprehensive missives would that format of communication be consumable is a question that remains. Maybe both the generation and consumption of arguments had changed. It does seem that with the rise of podcasts people are seeking out longer form communication. 

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

Thinking about methodology

We stand at the door of so many possibilities.

Dear Reader, 

Today we are going to dig into the nature of survey driven research. I’m interested in learning about the respondent from a 360 degree perspective. A survey is designed to extract information from the respondent. That information being extracted should be useful and definitive in some way that could not have been otherwise derived by observation. That last assertion could be debated. It could be evaluated from a lot of different perspectives. I’m wondering just how much of the research being conducted utilizing survey methods takes into account how the respondent feels about being a participant in the study. All of the recent talk about political tracking polls has probably raised my interest in the aforementioned research methodology question. A lot of different lines of inquiry could be raised to really dig into this question about respondents within survey based research methodologies. Generally speaking I have not participated in a survey in some time. I cannot to the best of my knowledge remember completely a survey outside of maybe a few clicks online here and there. 

At the moment, I have taken to wondering about who has the best deep fried appetizers in the area. By who I mean to say what restaurant. It seems that during this great year of pandemic the delivery services that bring food from restaurant to customer are growing. That business model appears to be working out well enough for those services. The cost of the delivery may very well be wreaking havoc for the restaurants. This is not an example of pure arbitrage, but instead it is an example of a service existing on the basis of another service. I’m sure an economic term exists to explain the dependence of the backward linkages between the delivery service and the origins restaurant. At the moment, I cannot remember that term so you will have to just imagine that one exists and it is pithy, resplendent, and otherwise eloquent. Getting back to the topic at hand, I should be able to pretty easily figure out based on the places I have been where I might want to do business again. That would be the easiest way to answer the question. It would be true empirically based on a direct sample and my preferences and the quality of the restaurant at the time of dining, delivery, or pickup. Answering the question in a more complete way would require a much larger sample size than my own personal experience. It would be possible to look at the ratings of some aggregation websites or even sort and filter within some of the aforementioned delivery services. Those methods might be the right way to go or it might be simpler to make a choice about dinner and then return to the search at a later time.

Several quick searches by rating as the only factor quickly put me right back where my initial decision would have taken me anyway. I could have and perhaps should have just gone with my initial reaction and avoided a bunch of additional research. Keeping my mind focused on a solid research agenda seems to be harder and harder over time. Honestly, it is much easier to just not do anything than to actively tackle hard questions each day. During this year of pandemic a lot of time has been spent in the pursuit of just waiting for better news. That alone was enough to push forward my academic research agenda. Right now conference requests are starting to come in and journal deadlines are the same as they have always been. Every day is a good day to sit down and write a paper, but that is easier to say than to accomplish. A cup of afternoon coffee just got brewed and I’m writing along here while watching the Green Bay Packers play football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Dr. Nels Lindahl
Broomfield, Colorado

A few thoughts…

Some days are just a little different than others. Yesterday I really thought deeply about the prospect of just taking down my weblog. It has been years since that happened. The last time was years ago when the domain was moved from the .net back to the primary .com domain. At one point, I head both of those domains up and running for reasons that now seem unnecessary. All of that was related to my thoughts on the lost art of communication by writing letters. This weblog for the most part is a series of poorly written and edited letters in the form of functional observations. I had started to really think about what it would mean to approach this effort in terms of writing open letters. That would involve a different type and style of writing on a daily basis.

Reading a journal double issue

A pretty big double journal issue from the American Review of Public Administration (ARPA) showed up in the mailbox this week. It contains 808 pages of journal articles about Covid-19 from a public administration perspective. I’m going to spend the weekend reading this double issue and thinking about why each of these articles was written. I’m going to deconstruct them from the perspective of why they were put together and why each specific article was assembled. I’m really curious about why the author structured it and published it in the way it ended up on the page for readers.

Something more novel

Earlier today I started to wonder about the prospects of moving things along this weekend. It seems this weekend will be a very busy adventure. This post today is going to be a little shorter than it should be for this time of night. My morning writing session was not very good at all for a variety of reasons. A lot of balls were up in the air. A lot of balls are still up in the air.