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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:19 pm 
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Halogen wrote:
Isaiah wrote:
It's not engineering, it's debate.
Interesting that you would mention that, as I've thought for years now that debate is like engineering in the sense of designing a system with a specific goal in mind. That especially applies to organization, since there are several concerns including standardization, optimization of argument effectiveness based on attention budgeted to different points, etc.

I call foul. ;) Not engineering was a tongue-in-cheek point about trying to "plan out" the "one way" everything ought to work. This is also bad engineering.

Organization MUST adapt. The "several concerns" are wide and varied per judge, per opponent, per exact topic you are discussing.

Just as when in engineering you must adapt to the landscape, use, users, and budget.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:29 am 
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So bad debate is like bad engineering and good debate is like good engineering.

That's a neat way of looking at it. My perfectionist personality is consistent in the way I design software and in the way I debate. For example, often when I don't really need to refactor code or switch to a different standard, I still do so in the name of good design. I wouldn't necessarily call that bad, just unusual: I place an unusually low value on time and a high value on the design "making sense." As a result, I've "discovered" some concepts on my own, only to learn later that they are already established practices. Similarly, in debate, I value consistency and logical soundness over compliance with norms. That's why I often have trouble formulating arguments (my mind isn't willing to develop an argument that sucks but is defensible) but when I can come up with one, I end up refactoring it repeatedly until it sounds "perfect" to me.

Same with organization in debate: i tend to organize arguments in a way that makes most sense to me, and it's only my secondary concern to predict what the judge will find persuasive. I still adapt somewhat, but I reject the idea that there is always an optimal way to adapt; even if something is technically less likely to be persuasive, it still can be a very good solution. For any situations, there are many good strategies and one is not necessarily better than the rest.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:09 am 
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All that tells me is that you're quite slow to accept that sometimes other people are right and you're wrong.

I wish there were a way to say this that didn't sound condescending, but after several minutes of trying, I can't think of one, so here goes: when you're twice the age you are today, if you look back and see that you wrote this, you're going to be incredibly embarrassed. Trust me on this. I'm just now at the point where half my life ago, I was an adult, and things I wrote at that age are still archived in various places, and they do, in fact, embarrass me half to death.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:13 am 
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DrSraderNCU wrote:
if you look back and see that you wrote this
Doing so right now.

Basically I tried to describe my strengths and weaknesses and how they relate to organization and how it's all comparable to things outside debate... which resulted neither in something coherent nor in good advice. I tend to make decisions in a way that I wouldn't necessarily recommend. I'm not even consistent in my own priorities.

What I do recommend is trying various ways of organizing the negative speeches so that you know how and when they can all be successful (I won't tell you how to define "successful" because that's personal to each debater).

Personally, when I competed in TP, we usually had the most success with shelling carefully pruned positions in the 1NC and extending them with new cards and warrants in the block. From what feedback we did receive, it seemed like the judges treated arguments in the 2NC as auxiliary to the arguments in the 1NC. Because our DAs usually had more potential than mitigation, we wanted them to be perceived as more important to our case against aff's plan.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:00 pm 
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Jordan and I talked a little more backchannel about this, because when I look back at my post now, it seems a lot more harsh than what was on my mind. I was in my last competitive debate in 1991, which is the same year one of my current team members was born. The biggest difference between my view of debate then and my view of debate now is that I now understand that my, or anyone's, individual taste in argument quality isn't very reliable. Certainly there are persuasive appeals that are designed to reach specific individuals, in the same sense that you can design a bedtime story for your own children, but arguments are more likely to be aimed at a broad audience, like a film whose producers want it to appeal to millions of viewers. Up to the last days of my competitive career, I frequently dismissed arguments with blunt language because they didn't persuade me. What I learned from judging and coaching is just how true it is that arguers and audiences are diverse, and an argument that doesn't persuade me in the slightest can still be extraordinarily powerful. That awareness is at the root of cognitive complexity, so I suppose coaching and judging is a good way to grow in that dimension.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:23 pm 
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Halogen wrote:
Isaiah wrote:
It's not engineering, it's debate.
debate is like engineering in the sense of designing a system with a specific goal in mind. That especially applies to organization, since there are several concerns including standardization, optimization of argument effectiveness based on attention budgeted to different points, etc.

I'm pretty sure there are a lot of different styles of engineering, different engineers have different goals, and some engineers are better than others....

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:43 pm 
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Which makes the analogy better.

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