Logical Fallacies and How to Avoid Them

Right now, I’m rereading a great book about critical thinking, Asking the Right Questions, by M. Neil Browne and Stuart M. Keeley. I recommend this book to anyone who has to do any kind of writing – or communicating, for that matter! (I guess that means everyone). It offers very practical and useful insight in how to apply logic to clarify and strengthen the messages you send, and to interpret the information you receive.

One of the great logical pitfalls of communication is the logical fallacy. Very generally, this is an error in reasoning. I just found a fabulous resource for understanding just about every flavor of logical fallacy. Check out this Fallacy tutorial by Dr. Michael C. Labossiere. It’s a great guide to understanding how an “Appeal to Authority” differs from an “Appeal to Fear,” and why both represent faulty reasoning. Plus you can explore dozens of other types of fallacies. Entertaining and educational reading!

Estimating RSS Readership: One Suggestion

RSS feeds are undoubtedly becoming an increasingly popular way for people to keep up with what’s new online. But just how popular are they becoming? That’s an important and tricky question.

Some recent articles and weblog entries have been touting the popularity of RSS feeds. These are great, and I’m happy to see them. However, I think there’s an important part of the puzzle missing from this enthusiasm: How might publishers figure out how many people are really accessing their content via RSS?

I think we need a statistical guideline that could help publishers make a rough estimate of RSS readership: average polling interval. So far, I haven’t seen anything quite like this, and it’s possible this may not be a good idea, but I suspect it might help.

Let me explain…
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A Date to Remember: Murrow Vs. McCarthy

Are you now, and have you ever been, a journalist?

Tuesday, March 9, 2004, marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most courageous moments in journalism – the airing of the CBS TV See It Now episode in which Edward R. Murrow exposed the deceit, bullying, and manipulation of the then-powerful Sen. Joseph McCarthy. To commemorate this, on Tuesday NPR aired a thoughtful commentary by Walter Cronkite.

In the 1954 broadcast of “A Report on Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy,” Murrow gave ample voice to the most effective critic of McCarthy’s power and credibility &#150 McCarthy himself…
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Learning from People Who Learn Via Computer

Perhaps the most crucial type of content you’ll ever encounter is information you have to learn in order to do your job, get a promotion, or to maintain or upgrade a professional certification. If that content isn’t clear and effective, you’re in trouble.

Self-paced, technology-based training (automated courses housed on the Web, a CD-ROM, or an intranet) has become quite popular with companies and other organizations. In these courses, learners are on their own – they do not interact with an instructor or a group of learners. This option offers learners greater flexibility (including just-in-time knowledge and the ability to repeat sections at will). However, these courses must be designed with extreme care since they must function completely on their own.

From the user’s perspective, how well do automated courses really work? In particular, what makes them succeed? What features should you look for if you’re selecting such a course?…
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Atom vs. RSS: What’s the Fuss?

Anyone who uses or publishes RSS feeds has probably heard rumblings about a similar technology called Atom. Some techies are getting quite hot under the collar over this rift, actually.

What do content people need to know about this dispute? Not much. It’s mainly a question of dominance and accessibility. In order to make your feed accessible to the widest audience, you’ll want to publish it in the dominant format(s).

Here are the bare basics that content folk should be aware of…
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Priceless Resources for Corporate Communications

So far, the all-time most popular article I’ve published on CONTENTIOUS has been Persuading Bosses to Allow Blogs.

Along that general topic, I know that a lot of marketing, PR, and corporate communications people are getting interested in learning more about how they might improve the credibility of their content and also make use of RSS feeds and blogging.

Here are some great resources I’ve found on these subjects…
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