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I think you do indeed have a point David, to which I'd like to add just a couple of things. First, it's hard (I think sometimes even for academics themselves) to distinguish theoretical complexity from jargonistic obfuscation. Sometimes it seems that the ideas are so deep (ie distant from the light of day) that our language is inadequate to express them, so we get plentiful uses of dis/embedded /slashes/ and (brackets (sorry parentheses)) which can strike one as (ir)relevant or (in)appropriate. There's something about competition in the academic world which is mostly healthy but can be stifling as soon as it's (over)done. And they do need to be teased from time to time.
More positively, as you're aware, I'm strongly conscious of how valuable much academic research is, if only we can get it shared in a sensible way. Hence my interest in bringing academics and practitioners together in conferences so that the ideas and knowledge can be reality-checked. Most academics I know are very keen to get involved in discussions with practitioners, they find it refreshing and stimulating. More needed.

Roger Silverstone replied by email to the original posting: "Thank for this. Point taken - in part. The Vision Statement you quote is actually taken verbatim from an EU publication (perhaps you should write to them). My own arguments talk about literacy as part of the process of communication. That means among readers as well as writers. These reports were written with a very particular audience in mind (and mostly by those writing in their second language). We are working on a book proposal which may go some way to meeting your objections. I am sure individual authors would be delighted to contribute something even more accessible on request should you ask them. Maybe - heretical though it may seem - we might also expect our readers to be able to make an effort to deal with complex material too."

I (DW) am a little chastened and have said I will try and make this a starting point for more positive exploration of the interesting points raised by the papers. Clearly work is needed on both sides.

Thank you for the links - I am one of the audience for whom these reports were likely designed (a media academic-in-training with a policy interest) and Dr Silverstone heads my department. It was good of him to respond as he is on sabbatical at the moment. Your complaint is not an unusual one and with a foot in both camps I sympathise - take a look at my own weblog entry (trackbacked above) for a few thoughts...

I hope on reading the papers if you find them useful you will produce your own summaries which I would be happy to comment on in turn.

(P.S. It would be useful, David, if you could put up somewhere an "about David Wilcox" page people could link to when they mention you...)

Please see the WSIS Civil Society Statement developed by us in Australia at www.ccnr.net/wsis. For all its faults, it will hopefull be the start of a dialogue and action in this country with political leaders/the all-pervasive bureaucracy, and with the next stage of WSIS and countries in the region.

And a little comment about usable research: there's a whole domain of applied techniques in this era in the 'world' of program evaluation, where 'utlisation focussed evaluation' (jargon in itself), is focussed on a) adoption b) intelligibility to different stakeholders, including different methods of presentation.

It's worth a read of Patton, M. Q. (1997). Utilization-focussed Evaluation. Thousand Oaks, Sage.

The General Accounting Office of the US produces all sorts of useful materials, including a document called 'Message Conferenceing' http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/p0631.pdf a report developed some years ago, but it helps to understand the practice of communication within the bureaucracy (oxymoron of course).


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