Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Addendum to Hurriyet Column II: Unhappy customer

I had already done my first addendum before the column was actually published, so this is my second addendum:

A friend of mine once noted, after seeing a harsh review to one of my Hurriyet columns, that I should have a thick skin. After seeing the comment to my most recent column, she would have probably gone straight for an alligator skin:
Economics has another name "the dismal science" and it sure is a boring subject unless you bring it to life which you fail to do again and again.I try to read your articles because I am very interested in Turkiyes progress but you bore me to tears with your style of writing which is not lucid, being wrapped up in trivialities, simply unredeable.Sorry dont give up your daytime job as they say.
I do have an alligator skin in fact, but I saw George Costanza sink to a new low at Seinfeld this morning (the fur hat, Kenny Rogers chicken episode), so I almost had a midlife confidence crisis (no, I am not fat and bald), if it were not for my friend Emi... But I do really appreciate all feedback, and in fact - comments, as long as they help me improve, are more useful than + ones. That's why I simply send a thank you note to + comments while I try to to address - ones in detail (this is actually the second serious - comment, apart from the political ones over at Forbes, so I am still a rookie in that respect). So as a token of my appreciation (after all, she seems to be a regular), I will respond to this unhappy customer:

I do a agree that I ramble a bit during my columns, although I am not sure if that's what the reader means by wrapped in trivialities. But many readers also note that they like the humor. Maybe, I need to try to adjust the dose of the rambling from one week to the next, as Emi was suggesting. As she notes, some can be short, brief, to the point and others pieces where I feel strongly about certain issues I can ramble to my heart's content. Makes sense, but more easily said than done...

Maybe, I really overdid with the hyperlinks this time around (I counted 36, including the signature files at the end). But the hyperlinks serve two purposes: Some, like the cheesy movie quotes, just provide humor. I could easily dispense with those. But others are crucial, as they make the column accessible to more people, and that brings me to the point on lucidity and readability.

It should have been obvious by now that I am not the people's economist, Turkey has Gungor Uras for that. Not that I would not want to be one, if the economics Ph.D. and Mr. Uras' Ayse Teyze, the equivalent of Japan's Mrs. Watanabe, the housewife who trades FX from home, equally enjoy your columns, then you are at the apex of your career as an Econ. columnist. I am not that good! Even if I were, I could never do that in my 650-word slot...

So I choose to do the following: While you'd need quite a bit of Econ. background to breeze through my articles, the hyperlinks are supposed to help mere mortals out. Let me illustrate with a few examples with yesterday's column: I did not have enough space to explain inflation targeting, so I just linked to the Wikipedia article on that. I would need at least a couple of paragraphs on how the IMF revamped its crisis prevention facility, so I just linked to my article from last year on that topic. The benefits of inflation targeting in Turkey would deserve a separate column, so I just linked to a recent Hurriyet column of mine, where I had taken on the issue. And so on and so forth....

This is all well, but I doubt the unhappy customer read my column in the hardcopy and then went to the web to specifically write me an answer: So I am wondering if she looked at the hyperlinks. I am not saying this to criticize her; maybe, the hyperlinks are not just working as I had hoped- maybe, people just don't like using them while reading the article, although those complimentary readings are one of those little things I just love about the FT. Or maybe, she had something else in mind when she noted that my columns are not lucid, and simply unreadable.

Maybe, I am making too much out of this. Many Turkish columnists get a lot of - comments and hate mail, even more than praises and + comments. But at the end of the day, my policy, even at Tripadvisor where I write reviews for our hotel, is to be polite enough to respond if someone has taken the time to write comments, even if those comments are not what I would have liked to see.

In that manner, if you have anything to say about my columns, please feel free to do so, either as a comment to this post (anonymous or not, both are fine) or an email to emre.deliveliATgmail.com. But please be as honest as you can; after all, I do have an alligator skin and I can definitely handle the truth!

5 comments:

TARIK said...

never mind.we like what you are writing.you are not a "televole ekonomist".that is something you should be proud of.
I like your writings because you explain many things in a easy way.I like when you explain things in details it makes us understand the big picture.They say that Devil is in details.Certain things(trivialities) might be insignificant or unimportant for some people but they might be important for the others.
I hope you continue writing for a long time.
Note:I know "comments are never required....

Emre Deliveli said...

Tarik,

Thanks for the comments. The positive feedback I got to column, here as well as in Twitter and Facebook, was really a confidence-booster...

Yes, comments are never required, but always appreciated:)...

Best,

Emre

Rower32 said...

Keep doing what you do...

Personally I have no problem with the hyperlinks. I'm more on the geeky side maybe but hyperlinks def help the reader to better navigate the issue as you already mentioned. I understand not too many people have time to dig deeper (maybe that's what frustrating them?) but at the same time it's reader's job to figure out which one to click on.

In all honesty sometimes I get lost, too, but I know it's a matter of knowledge, or lack of it. I believe it's the reader's responsibility to close the gap. That's the fun part at least for me.

From the reader's perspective clear, elegant and simple writing is always preferred. But I don't think there's a free lunch here, especially on the stuff you are talking about. For instance, while Paul Krugman's (non-partisan) NYT blogs are relatively shorter and usually contains a link or two to an older post, you end up reading twice as much than the original blog if you don't have the background.

The bottom-line is i don't want this blog turn in to a US News column where you know less after you read it. Keep up the good work.

Rower

Emre Deliveli said...

Dear Tarik and Rower32;

Thanks a lot for the feedback.

In addition to the comments posted here, I got a few through email, a couple from Facebook and even one through Gtalk.

I am now in the process of gathering all these comments and reflecting on them, so I will post in my blog my resolution as soon as I am done with that...

Best,

Emre

Emre Deliveli said...

Dear Tarik, Rower32 and everyone else:

Here's my resolution:

http://emredeliveli.blogspot.com/2010/10/resolution-on-hurriyet-columns.html

Thanks again for the thoughtful comments...