The personal portfolio and ramblings of Preet Jassi


In Plato's Phaedrus, Socrates rants about the danger of persuasive writing. According to Socrates, the only medium for the projection of ideas is dialog. The irony behind this is that without the written word, we would be unable to read Phaedrus and would probably lack all knowledge of Plato's work. However, it is more interesting to explore Socrates opinion in the context modern media. Today, the written word is the most efficient way to explore ideas while dialog is the most inefficient.

Academics express their ideas by writing and publishing papers. Additionally, an academic can critique other work and offer new ideas through the publishing of a paper. Authors publish their research or ideas through publishing books. Behind everything great, there is some sort of publication. It is the process of publication that ensures that the documents that are published are credible. In the scientific community, submission of a paper to a publisher validates the research and the scientific process to ensure that the results obtained are accurate and reproducible. Essentially, submitting your work to a publisher ensures that the public is not exposed to garbage, in general (note that there are exceptions).

Blogs are a new medium that give everyone the freedom to express their ideas, regardless of the content. The problem with blogs is that the majority of them are useless. There is no filter, thus, there is no credibility in blog content. It is ironic that the internet was designed to facilitate communication of documents but the documents that are being communicated lack substance. It is also ironic that, in Canada, the public pays taxes to fund research but you have to pay a fee to access the papers that are published as a result of that research.

Contrast the written word with the spoken word. I seldom participate in non-trivial dialog. Why? Experience has taught me that nothing is accomplished through expressing different ideas except for unneeded tension and anger. It is amazing that some debates have persisted over two millennia. It seems impossible for two people with opposite opinions to crucify their ego and discuss things dispassionately. Even if emotions do not flare, after the discussion, the opinions will have not been altered. Indeed, nothing will have changed except for the time on your watch. Still, people continue to launch into the same debate night after night expecting to educate the world cloaked in ignorance. It is easy to discern who is knowledgeable in the field that is being discussed. Ironically, those without the pertinent knowledge can be extremely vocal about the subject. However, when you try to correct the assumptions made by these benighted people, they take the typical human response of denial and petty insults. In short, debates accomplish nothing.

In spite of my bleak depiction of the spoken world, Socrates was not wrong in his statement. Dialog is the most efficient method to discuss ideas. With a constructive dialog, you can pose questions and obtain responses immediately. Additionally, you can ask for further clarification. You can also collaborate by proposing your own ideas. However, this is only useful when the parties involved are knowledgeable in the pertinent field and are mature enough to set aside their insecurities and egos.

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