I regularly read articles across a broad range of subjects. Today, I read an article in Forbes about problems with mutual funds, another about scientists meeting at Oxford about climate change, and others, still, about varying subjects including writing, employment, the global economy, US job projections, space exploration, new scientific discoveries and theories…. Of those articles, only the scientific ones reported anything substantial. The rest were a bunch of words that simply stated and then restated the general issue, quoted a few “names” who said nothing more than, yeah, we may have an issue here, but no proffered solutions; not even a list of the issue’s problems-in-need-of-solutions. They offered nothing.
Waste of time, waste of bits and bytes, and my main objection to most of what I find being proliferated across all the varied communication media available–audio, visual (including textual) and multi-media.
So why is content so lacking therein? I’ve come across five basic reasons:
- there is, as yet, no solution (The Halting Problem);
- exposing the solution destroys that solution’s effectiveness (marketing strategies);
- the communicator won’t share the solution unless you pay for it (any capitalist enterprise);
- the solution and consequences is/will be unpopular (Climate Change);
- the communicator doesn’t know of a solution, whether because of ignorance or laziness.
If you’re going to communicate about something, at least list the issue’s problems. If you are going to point out those problems, be up front if there are no solutions as yet or offer up potential solutions–those tried, those which have failed, those which have had some greater or lesser degree of success. It’s relatively easy, and it follows the same formula of all effective communication: opening statement (thesis statement), supporting evidence and arguments, conclusion (restatement of the thesis, summary of major points).
We really need to stop rewarding vacuousness. Really.