I am finding that the ideas put forward by the academics, regardless of their positive intentions, are too academic to be of any use in the real world. I am a person who likes to write but I am beginning to realize that we do not need more books. Books are useful, but we do not need more new ideas because most people do not understand what the new ideas are asking them to do or how to do it. We need action and SIMPLE STEP BY STEP PLANS TO GUIDE PEOPLE TO THE RIGHT ACTIONS rather than complex political, business, economic or social ideas.
When I say simple, I mean unusually simple. Step by step guidelines that can fit on a single A4 page. Guidelines that will tell people if A + B does not add up to C then something is wrong with your food or your local city council or your employer and you determine what is wrong by examining your A and then your B and then trying to determine why it’s not giving you a C. The more complex an idea is, the fewer people are going to be able to understand it. The less understanding people have about an idea or an event, the more they revert to what they know, their original perceptions and behaviours, which are wrong, hence no change.
What makes academic ideas so complex? The inherent problem, found in all academic writing or academic presentations, or any other forms of highly educated form of communication or presentation, is that the academics or the highly educated person who is communicating cannot discuss a theory or an idea or an event without referring to another theory and the theory they referred to will be referring to another theory. This applies to any area, business, health, policy, engineering, food, anything. This is the nature of scientific thinking and research. What this means is that the audiences’ base knowledge will have to be significant. They have to be well educated. This is a problem. Most people are not well educated and are not familiar with any theoretical framework of any kind. Many are not educated at all. Like I said, many people do not understand what the new ideas are asking them to do or how to do it. I think that this is why many, many independent documentaries and online or paper publications fail. The ideas offered are too complex to be taken on board by the target audience then executed because they are written by highly intelligent individuals.
For example, I read about many new green technologies and ideas. How to build a greener house, use less energy, recycle garbage, eat healthier food. What I notice is that as soon as the well meaning writer makes his suggestions he or she starts to talk about chemical processes, energy conversion rates, mathematical calculations, eco systems, complex ‘systems relationships’ or how one element can affect all the other elements of all the other systems and so on. While it is necessary to explain why a new idea, or a technique, or a product is valid, the explanations have to be extremely simple.
In fact, the new product or an idea should be presented in a manner that is so simple and self evident that it requires no explanation of why it is more useful than the old product or process. THIS IS WHAT THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA DOES SO WELL. They advertise cars, pills, guns, clothes, and millions of other things without trying to explain why you should buy them. They show you the kind of pleasure you will experience, the end result, but not how or why. You know that the car will provide a smooth ride over a bumpy terrain and that the new seat will be extra comfortable but you are not asked to understand the complex physical and chemical processes behind it. We do not need to create another kind of mindless consumerism but we do need to simplify how information is presented.
How do we solve this problem. We need to create content that is ‘closed’. Articles written so that after you read them you are not left wondering what the concepts, or formulas, or graphs or data used mean or what the hell are they referring to. In other words it is a self contained unit of information that does not require the reader to hold a PhD in order to understand its operating principles.
It’s especially important to stop comparing new products and technologies and especially green products and technologies to current technologies. It is an automatic turn off for most people. Why? Because as soon as you start by saying this green car uses fifty precent less fuel than this particular petrol powered car you are going to criticize all the people who already own that petrol car and because people don’t want to be criticized, especially if they can do something about it, they change the channel and your audience is gone. It is better to present the new product and all its potential without referring to the old product.