Evidence: Anecdotal • Anecdotes give us memorable stories that illustrate an idea without necessarily offering a representative example. Anecdotes, strictly, are stories that help us to understand but may not represent a common series of events. • Examples of anecdotes: • Robert Reich tells the story of his own decision to leave a job in the Clinton administration (pp. 6-8 in The Future of Success). • Kevin Kelly tells the story of a group of people trying collectively to guide a virtual submarine in New Rules (pp. 17-18). Value of anecdotes: They’re memorable and illustrative.Drawback of anecdotes: Though they illustrate an idea, they cannot often be taken as typical.
Evidence: Illustrative vs. Representative • Anecdotes: Anecdotes are always illustrative, though they may not be representative. A representative example gives us an object or a scenario that we can expect to represent what is typical • Examples of representative examples in Kelly’s New Rules: • On p. 19, Kelly uses the example of Sears home motor to show how technologies become invisible once they’re incorporated smoothly into our daily lives. We can expect the same thing to happen to “dumb chips” and networks. • On p. 29, Kelly uses the examples of Beta video technology and Apple PCs to show that a superior technology without initially competitive pricing will not necessarily become the standard. • On pp. 39-40 Kelly uses the example of fax machines and networks to demonstrate the increasing value of networked technology.
Evidence: Illustrative vs. Representative • Examples of representative examples in Shapiro’s and Varian’s Information Rules: • On p. 10, Shapiro and Varian offer the example of the Microsoft-Intel partnership to represent the need to make valuable partnerships in a networked economy. • On p. 13, Shapiro and Varian offer the example of the Internet’s exponentially growing popularity to represent how positive feedback contributes to growth in networked enterprises. • On pp. 17-18, Shapiro and Varian offer the example of the Microsoft-Justice Department clash as an example of how a complete lack of regulation can lead to problems in a networked economy.
Evidence: Hypothetical • Hypothetical evidence has no grounding in real events, though the audience may accept the hypothetical situation as typical. • Examples of hypothetical evidence: • On p. 138 of The Future of Success, Reich offers a long hypothetical situation to explain how influence circulates in networks of politicians and wealthy Americans. • On p. 24 of New Rules, Kelly offers a hypothetical example of a milk factory compared to a telephone network to show how linear growth in traditional manufacturing contrasts with exponential growth in networked organizations. • On p. 22 of New Rules, Kelly offers a hypothetical example of a friendship network to demonstrate the exponential growth of value in networks.
Evidence: Hypothetical • One more example of a hypothetical: • Shapiro and Varian offer the hypothetical description of competition between versions of a phone directory to demonstrate the expense of initially producing information and the ability to cheaply reproduce it after the first product has been issued (p. 24). Value of hypothetical evidence: Since the author can control exactly what gets presented, s/he can craft a more memorable and illustrative example. Drawback of hypothetical evidence: Hypothetical evidence requires the audience to make a leap of faith--they must accept that this fake situation could really happen as the author describes it and would be typical.
Evidence: Statistical • Statistical evidence presents us with numerical presentation of a trend among many examples. • Examples of statistical evidence: • On p. 11 of New Rules, Kelly offers statistical evidence to show that the number of chips and computers is growing dramatically. • On p. 6 of Information Rules, Shapiro and Varian present statistics to show that much of the traffic on the Internet involves images, not text. Value of statistical evidence: Since statistical evidence presents a variety of examples in a numerical indicator, the audience should be more inclined to believe that we have a trend before us. Drawback of statistical evidence: It’s boring and not very memorable.
Evidence: How it's Used • The kind of evidence used is not the only factor to consider. We can also look at how evidence is used. • For instance: • One may find that Kelly uses statistical evidence as often as Shapiro and Varian, but he uses it to prove minor points, while Shapiro and Varian use it to prove their major claims. It would seem that Shapiro and Varian trust statistical evidence more than Kelly. • One may find that Kelly uses illustrative and representative evidence as often as Shapiro and Varian, but Kelly offers much more detail and emphasis when giving hypotheticals and anecdotes. It would seem that Kelly values illustrative evidence more than Shapiro and Varian.
Evidence: Authority • Authorities are people whom we should believe and trust--if we believe and trust them, then we’ll accept what they say without necessarily asking for more evidence. • Examples of authority: • On p. 8 of New Rules, Kelly gives us a quote from Carver Mead, inventor of the modern computer chip, to encourage us to focus on technology in today’s economy. • On p. 28 of New Rules, Kelly refers to AnnaLee Saxenian’s belief that people job-hop a lot in today’s labor market. • On p. 4, Shapiro and Varian quote the U.S. Constitution to prove that privatization of information has long been a mainstay in our economy.
Evidence: Authority The value of authorities: Authorities are valuable if your audience trusts them. The drawback of authorities: This evidence often does not feel concrete. Also, an audience might believe that an authority is biased. What matters is not only whether or not but which authorities an author relies on: One can tell what an author values by looking at the types of authorities to which s/he refers. For instance, if a writer refers to economists more than to business leaders, then s/he probably thinks that economists have a more objective picture of things, while business leaders have a partial view. On the other hand, if an author refers to business leaders more than to economists, s/he may believe that “pratical” knowledge is more reliable than theoretical analysis or removed statistical studies.