1. You don’t need to see your opponents evidence until after the speech- I’m sure this will be controversial as every time I mention this in polite conversation I’m blasted for it. People seem to be very concerned with how paperless squads will get evidence to the other team for reading/if they give it all to them at the beginning won’t the other team cheat and look ahead etc. I think it should work like this: at the end of your speech, you hand the other team either a jump drive with the speech on it, or a computer with the document open (they can pick). Here are my arguments for this system:
A. There is no “need” to immediately read the other teams evidence- even for the next immediate speech (2NC) you can read them during CX or prep time. To prep a speech you generally need to flow, right some responses, pull some evidence, and read the other teams ev(not in that order necessarily). You can’t do them all at once. Why would you want to do the reading of evidence part during the speech? I guess the “logical” claim would be “you should read the evidence before you formulate answers”. I think that you only need to do this if
-the other team tags their evidence poorly
-the other debater is unclear so you can’t hear the tag/evience
If neither of those happens you should have a good enough idea to start formulating your responses. So do the other parts of prep, and read the cards later.
B. Every time I hear a discussion of which way someone is going to flip, can they flip left, no they don’t like flipping left, ok now wait while I move a chair to flip stuff onto blah blah blah it makes me die a little bit inside. Seriously it should not be that difficult to move the sheet of paper you already read to a new spot so that you can read the next sheet. Even if you debate on paper I think just flip wherever you want, hand it to them when you are done. People who are in your face about taking evidence away the nano second that you finished reading it need to take some stress management classes.
C. Flowing is a dying art- as is line by line. I won’t go on a rant here as others can do it better than I- but you can see people not flowing as they read the other teams evidence during the speech. There seems to be a huge assumption amongst debaters today that they can just “get the block” and reconstruct the speech later without flowing. As a result I have seen a lot of people drop arguments that weren’t on the block, answer arguments that are on the block but weren’t read, and in general not have anything close to the order the 2AC said them in.
2. Standing while speaking- I think this needs to go the way of the dinosaurs. I tried to think of what the arguments where for standing while speaking and I couldn’t come up with many:
-its tradition/it seems more formal- lame
-You sound better/breathe better etc- I have to disagree here on all counts. Prof. musicians who play wind instruments do not stand when they perform. I tried looking for some kind of study or something that would offer insight into my intuition here but didn’t find anything really useful so I am just going to assert this- if you sit up straight you can breathe as well and project your voice as loudly as if you stand. Here is why standing is stupid
A. People have a million annoying tics like dancing around and banging tubs etc. While this could continue while sitting, I don’t really remember anyone who sits while speaking doing these things (ok not true I do remember 1). Obviously people will say this isn’t a causal thing but I think it is- when you are sitting you are more relaxed, you aren’t pacing etc.
B. Time spent constructing speaking stands- seems trivial. But in college debate there are serious discussions about making tournaments have less rounds because the days are getting to long. So this summer I judged about 80 debates. When I remembered (which was only about 10) I opened an extra timer and counted up all the time that was spent with stupid crap like making speaking stands, looking for evidence and lost flows etc. It averaged to about 17 minutes*(side note below). 17 times 4 is 68. That means at a 4 round /day tournament you are making your day an hour longer with these shenanigans.
C. A table has way more surface area than any stand. This allows you to spread out and organize things if you use paper, or to use a full size mouse and not be cramped if you are reading off a computer.
People of various heights (esp the tall) may have an objection about this but they are lame- every day when you use a computer its at the same height it would be when you are reading from a computer in a debate.
An ancillary benefit of paperless related to this is tournament hosting- if every debater sits when speaking, and is paperless there would no longer be a need to re-arrange rooms or pick up a crapload of trash. This is significant as anyone who has ever worked at at tournament knows- literally thousands of hours of people’s time are spent every year cleaning and fixing rooms. The opportunity costs to this are huge.
Also- as a judge- the sheer fact that paperless means you never have to sit there waiting for people to find evidence that is lost (either to give it to you or the other team) is pretty awesome.
3. Not really a point about paperless but just something to throw out there- more HS tournaments should have wifi. When this started becoming the norm in college I found I was cutting additional cards before virtually every debate either because I knew there was something we didn’t have answers to or because we needed newer uniqueness etc. With corporations like comcast willing to sponsor tournaments and provide it for free there seems to be no downside. But more than that, a lot of schools already have it but don’t give out codes at their tournaments which seems silly. Obviously there are downsides/potential problems- but college clearly shows that it is workable and no major incidents have arisen.
4. Group buys- if we could somehow organize enough people I bet we could get big discounts on netbooks/jumpdrives/power strips the way we get hotel block discounts for rooms now. Either state organizations or even the NDCA/NFL – groups with large memberships- would have some leverage when buying 500 laptops at a time the same way schools do. This could even be combined with some kind of charity effort like the OLPC give one get one program (which currently is on pause but I read is coming back).
*sidenote- I also added up the amount of “stolen” prep in about a dozen debates. I counted time when no one was using prep or speech time or cx(where a lot of teams seem to think they can ask several questions before officially starting cx) and this was about 12 minutes per debate, so almost 2 hours of lost time during the debate.