Written arguments outperforms the oral debate

When the debate was over my fantastic group of students met outside the door of the auditorium to talk about their new experiences. They were very positive about the IT part of the day of the study but did not like the later oral debate. They marveled at the fact that some politicians could be so insensitive. Speed and structure of the electronic discussion system used was like blown away in the oral discussion.

The students felt that the political system relied on a hierarchical structure that did not exist in the computer world. Conversation outside the door was about the differences between the various forms of communication. The students felt that the difference between oral and written communication was clear. I asked if they could point to the causes:

Why was the written debate on the net so much better? What significant differences existed between the forms of communication? They found a lot of reasons:

  • The written content of the debate came in focus, while the speakers as people stood in the center at the hearing. One reason for this was that the debate was anonymous – something that the oral by nature could not be.
  • The ability to vote anonymously, or make anonymous posts was only in the written debate. It strengthened the participants’ privacy. You could vote without revealing their views or ask an anonymous question without being branded as ignorant. In the oral debate many avoided to express their views for fear of making themselves a laughing-stock.
  • Written debate is non-linear, unlike the oral. Many people can write on the computers at the same time without interfering with each other. Several discussions can exist simultaneously. This means that the pace of communication exchange might be maintained. When the debate was speaking and “linear” as the pace dropped, causing many to become bored.
  • You can not cancel or overpower others in a written dialogue. If more contrast would speak at the same time, it would just heard the most vociferous.
  • The choice is greater in written debates. If a post becomes too long or uncertain at the internet so you stop to read. By contrast, one of courtesy, had to sit quietly and listen for long speeches.
  • It is faster to read than to speak. Oral debate takes longer, which means that it will be competing for time-space. Major policy debates are therefore time-regulated for reasons of fairness. Competition for time-space is not available in written debates. In a well-structured debate the reader can find herself the strongest arguments.
  • Rhetorical trick works better in speech than in writing. Written arguments gives the debaters time to review the arguments. This allows bad arguments easily detected and exposed. The written argument lingers, as distinct from the oral to disappear. Written debate remain long afterwards for those who want to go back and analyze it.

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