Communicating complex ideas: a book in progress

16 July 2012

A few months ago I posted a call for proposals for a new edited book on communicating complex ideas. This is an update of the project that is not underway. Over the next few of days I’ll publish the posts that the authors have written as an introduction to their chapters:

As a reminder, the idea of the book is to explore the challenges and opportunities that researchers and communicators face when attempting to communicate complex ideas to their audiences or publics. These chapters are not exercises in self-promotion nor should be taken as an opportunity to discuss, at length, the idea itself (unless the idea itself is a key explanatory factor in its own stickiness).

They are not research to policy fantasies.

The objective of the chapters is to discuss and reflect on why ideas are often difficult to communicate, explore the opportunities that bringing research and communications offer, and the challenges that this collaboration presents.

The research teams are, most of them, made up of researchers and communicators. And in all cases the papers are intended to be based on a dialogue between researchers and communicators. In this dialogue, we hope, learning will take place.

As the editor of this volume I have taken on the role of challenging and slowing down the authors. As they submit their drafts I am reading through them and encouraging them to stop and pay attention to important and interesting ‘tipping point’ or ‘what if’ moments. I hope you’ll join me in that role and comment on the blogs and even suggest questions for the authors to consider in their research.

  • What factors should they be looking for?
  • What do you think explains the difficulty in communicating complex ideas?
  • What has your experience been?
  • Have you been on the ‘receiving’ end of a complex idea? What made you ‘get it’ -or not?

It is worth saying, too, that I am still looking for at least one more team of authors -ideally from Asia but am happy to consider all proposals. Please have a look at the Terms of Reference.

Read the book here: Communicating complex ideas: the book