[eDebate] the value of the destruction of NDT debate

Old Strega oldstrega
Mon Apr 6 01:39:44 CDT 2009

on the heels of a good backchannel debate w kooz on the topic of the significance of challenging assumptions from inside the prevailing format, i offer these prospectives.
the thrust of my invocation of ede warner as a key figure in debate history lends itself to negativity only if one is completely committed to the assumptions of the current framework without reservation.    the double-edged sword of the ede warner phenomenon is his assessment of failure and vision of evolution to a superior form.   that is a thought-experiment worthy of greater consideration by all debaters.

the provisional model will be recent rule changes in the game of cricket which have shortened the game for the purpose of greater public accessibility to the sport.   i picked this model from a discussion with a dell technical support tech who explained to me changes in the game of cricket while waiting for a super-slow restart.
could ndt c-x team debate change the rules of the game to become more accessible to the public as cricket has?   the greatest obstacle to even considering the question is the identity formation of the community which rests upon the current process.   habit makes one into a caricature of oneself.     some say this psychological impediment is impossible to overcome.   i disagree.    this obstacle actually points to rapid evolution in contradistinction to the gradualism vaunted by reformers along the lines of william s. burroughs' argument against the darwinian evolution of species.    the holding onto the past eventually gives way to avalanches since greater values demand transformation. 
this is my problem with debate nostalgia.  ede was no nostalgist who wanted to just include blacks within the current set of rules and commend their contributions to the activity.   ede saw this as a big trap and fought the rules.   did ede lose?   hell no.   inevitability is on ede's side.
the key to changing the rules is taking the best of what NDT c-x team debate has to offer and eliminating the worst.    the worst is the tag-line drone derived from poor coaching and a lack of exemplars.    take the average transcript of a high-speed debate and you will find the speed is cover for repetition of words and ideas.  flow spews spread the same ideas out across many pages which i argue is antithetical to the development of rhetorical style.     speed is fine so long as you have plenty to say.    ancient rhetoric privileged economy of speech and exemplars from competitive debate history and the many more great public speakers share this skill which is no longer cherished by the NDT community as the primary mark of excellence in speaking.   the drone-spew is arguably a symptom of filling space for people who don't have enough ideas.   transcript analysis of the best recent debates would prove fruitful for evolution.   the quality coaches left in the activity could find avenues for improvement which do not come forward in immediate post-round judge critiques.   as burroughs used to say about the playback of recordings, "STOP.  INCH THE TAPE."   
this speed "style" which has gained sway is analogous to the five-day cricket game in relation to public accessibility.   assume the position of the lay evaluator of even the best NDT debates.    possibly, you are amazed by the speed of the speakers.   possibly as well, as your untrained ear picks out words and phrases here and there, you notice significant repetition and start to wonder if the professional debater is really saying that much.    to hold an audience you have to have action and that's part of the cricket rule changes too.   the question becomes how to move the action from the flow to the speech.   again, consider transcript analysis.   transcripts are not just archives for nostalgia.   MLK was a debater whose speech garnered the action to hold any audience.   his economy of speech which allowed him to explore the manipulation of tropes is vastly superior to your speeches.   models like these should be used, not to merely reaffirm one's identity as a black debater or a debater who values black speakers, but also to establish higher speaking standards.

the tag-line drone is fed by the research race which promotes the fear of not having cards.   the research race leads to elite powerhouses with the most hired guns and the largest research technology infrastructure.   the race should be eliminated because it has led to relatively poor speaking as the standard.    this is not an argument against neither quantity nor quality of research which make for great debates.    some form of prior disclosure  of evidence is needed for the shift to rhetorical style as the flower of competitive debate.
the best debates are not only the most competitive debates but the most competitive debates where the nuances of the literature and the issues are explored the most making the end of the year prime for those occasions.    the strategy of fooling the opponent by disarming their ability to respond with new evidence is short-sighted for the growth of the activity.     breadth is already managed by the existing ginormous research effort undertaken by the community.    breadth would hardly suffer from new rules that focus the activity on the interpretation of evidence which is where the thinking happens.   
we encounter a major psychological impediment, right here.  i call it the bill gates microsoft syndrome, the idea of proprietary research that opposes sharing.   UDL philanthropy is not the sharing needed for better speaking standards.     sharing evidence prior to rounds which would allow the opponents to carefully analyze and develop a more sophisticated response is characterized as a threat to thinking on one's feet.   that's a circular argument that begs the question.   whether one hears the evidence for the first time in the round or before the round, from the second one first hears that evidence one is thinking on one's feet.    thinking on one's feet for longer periods of time allows for better understanding of the nuances of that evidence.    one can not anticipate the other team's responses and eventually at some point in the round, regardless of the fact that the evidence has been analyzed before the round, one will have to think on one's feet.  the major difference is that the first line responses to the evidence are more refined.   there are 8 speeches, not 2.    first line responses will also gain greater rhetorical flare from pre-round analysis of evidence.
sharing could create another prospect -- the sifting out of all the crappy cards that get read whose taglines don't come close to matching their text and the concentration of debates across the spectrum of the tournaments on the gold in the literature.   i know you judges see this as cheating.   the debaters who don't research and squat on elite files still won't be the best because they won't understand the context of the literature as well as those who are reading day and night with their hearts committed to comprehension of the resolution.     they won't be able to make those devastating uncarded arguments which assess context.    sharing does not preclude the fluency in the literature which distinguishes the thinkers in debate from the literate teleprompter readers.   possibly, the significant amount of poor evidence tolerated could be regarded as offensive to a community which deems itself intellectual, the flip side of the proprietary disease.    and possibly, debate rounds could center around less but sweet cards.
i think the elite powerhouses are committed to the research race because they are scared of a world in which critical thinking and a rhetoric of tropes dominate the activity.   for this, they should be opposed and defeated.
well spoken arguments attached to the skeleton of solid argument strategy have historically proven to be viable public events.    keep the strategy and the research.   
work on speaking or keep your sights low at the level of a good professional debater who can't win in the big arena.  parliament and all tuna's stuff is not the answer or raison d'etre for not changing c-x. 
an issue for another day is the technical construction of the resolutions, a topic ede attacked quite well.   it is not difficult to see how the wordings have become like a game of madlibs with certain key phrases like "USFG" "significantly" "one or more of the following areas" etc. surrounded by the words that differentiate the topic area.   this method has passed the point of diminishing returns.

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