Egad, academic writing is harmful…


This is a post in which I pick on someone for a writing violation.   Here’s Dana Boyd in a post titled, “Participatory Culture…”:

Through a series of dialogues, we’re hoping to produce a book that interrogates our different thoughts regarding participatory culture. The goal is to unpack our differences and agreements and identify some of the challenges that we see going forward. We began our dialogue this week and had a serious brain jam where we interrogated our own assumptions, values, and stakes in doing the research that we each do and thinking about the project of participatory culture more generally.

This just hurts me to read.  Here’s my plain-speak translation:

We sat down for dinner and talked about participatory culture.    While we agreed on some things, there were more differences that we suspected.  Before we move forward we need to make sure we understand our own assumptions about the topic.

This frustrates me to no end as a large portion of my job is stepping down corporate “nothing-speak” into words that have more impact.  The biggest problem in academics is a sort of self-perpetuating “word bloom”.  For example, a colleague of mine of the academic persuasion can’t just enjoy a Saturday with his daughter, everything has to: “present tangible opportunities for nurturing the early mind”.    Or, where I can just simply listen to Pitbull, his experience needs to be “drive home notional aspects of how pop culture and identity form novel topologies of continuous self-assessment.”

Maybe I just need to engage in more dialogue and interrogate my own assumptions?