So the debate coach blogosphere (all four of us) has been atwitter about increasing the size of said blogosphere, or at least the capacity of online communication among forensics coaches in general. Admiral Menick’s latest idea is a common RSS feed which aggregates all the various debaterly content out there into a coherent, one-stop-shopping location for all things forensics. It’s not a bad idea, I’d certainly subscribe.
But is it enough? I’m not sure the issue here is entirely platform, honestly. I think at least partly there’s an community standard that people don’t talk to one another, be it online or at tournaments, about these matters. Fix that, and the forum may build itself; fail to, and nothing you do in forum building will work.
Policyland talks a lot about itself. They have various channels to do so, but they’ve also built their community and their activity around ideals of openness and disclosure, which encourages a lot of inter-squad talking. Policy debaters also travel a lot, and it’s a small, possibly shrinking — some say dying — activity, which means at any given tournament, one finds a fairly substantial quorum of the whole activity. These factors combine into a world where everyone knows everyone else — a community in a real sense, that actively discusses the issues facing it. Word gets around.
However, policy may not be an especially good model for the rest of forensics. Policy debate has grown remote from the rest of forensics; in many ways they least resemble the rest of us. They’re similar to LD in that LD has a national circuit of competitors and coaches who mostly go to each others’ tournaments and the TOC, and little else; but LD also has maintained an active and vibrant local scene in many areas of the country, which Policy has failed to do. So to the extent that the Policy community’s intercommunication succeeds because of the tight, small nature of the community, the same lessons do not apply to all of LD, and certainly would not apply to Speech and PF events as well.
So that’s the trick; to start a dialog between the Circuit Snob and the Local Yokel, and get a critical mass on board. I tend to think real person communication should come first, and then the online resources should be an outgrowth of that. If there’s a real-world at-tournaments component to matters, then the online part will mean more, and have more respect and substance to it. At least, so I hope.
I suppose I should put my money, or at least my tournaments, where my mouth is on this front. Off to email Bietz.