One challenge in writing ARMs for the Rest of Us is resolving several conflicting aims: significance, rigor, documentation, ease of reading and concision (see Goals below). I hope to publish in print a slightly more polished version as improved by your questions and comments.
To write tight, concise articles on significant, complex topics while trying also to ensure readability, I am using an experimental style of relegating evidence, citations and anything else not absolutely necessary to the primary argument to often extensive annotations.
Here’s how I recommend you read it:
1. ignore annotations on a first read.
2. go back and skim the annotations. Consider more closely anything that’s of interest or about which you’re skeptical.
I welcome and appreciate thoughts about any:
- Content from the post that might be relegated to annotations
- Content presently in an annotation that should be in the main article
- Assertions in the text not documented or explained that should be
- Annotations that should be expanded or developed into new articles
- General thoughts about this experimental style
3. If you find the annotations off-putting and find it difficult to ignore them, give it time. I couldn’t read internet articles at all when I first came upon them – or for that matter journal articles! The links (and parentheticals) were too distracting. But we all got used to it quickly, and I think you’ll get use to this quickly too.
Goals of ARMs for the Rest of Us
The Internet, media, and even academic journals are filled with schlock that continually threaten to choke out work of value. My goals for everything we publish, and any work we might influence is to reduce schlock and provide value. We do this through attention to:
(1) Significance: What’s here is here because it’s important — the most important thing on which we can be working at the moment.
(2) Rigor: Thoroughly consider logic, numbers, data and precision of language.
(3) Evidence: Strong assertions, but always well documented, cited and explained (or at least documentable and explainable).
(4) Readability: The goal is to reach the widest audience, not to turn people off: no dumbing-down, but no jargon or other obstacles to understanding.
(5) Concision: Everything should be as short as it can be, subject to the criteria above. I hope to also publish this in print where space limitations also become paramount. (Questions, comments and suggestions for a forum also most welcome!)