Special Edition Podcast: Paperless Debating

With many teams preparing to make the transition to paperless debating next season and many more still on the fence about doing so, we wanted to provide our readers/listeners with insights from three of the pioneers of this transition. In this special edition of The 3NR Podcast, we host a panel discussion of paperless debating with a particular emphasis on the experiences of debaters themselves—from pre-tournament organization to pre-round preparation to in-round execution.

To get this debater-centric perspective on paperless debating, we turned to Ellis Allen and Daniel Taylor, rising seniors at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta and winners of the 2010 Tournament of Champions. Ellis and Daniel were one of the first high school teams in the nation to transition to paperless debating and their insights into the process can provide a helpful blueprint for students now beginning the transition themselves. Joining Ellis and Daniel is Alex Gulakov, a debater at the University of Texas and the creator of the Synergy system of paperless software. Alex has been one of the biggest advocates of paperless debating and is currently working with several summer institutes and debate programs across the country to aid them in the transition.

The discussion—clocking in at just over an hour—covers a wide range of paperless topics that debaters will find helpful. After beginning with a discussion of the transition from paper to paperless, we delve into the specific mechanics of preparing each speech including pitfalls to avoid and tips to improve your debating. There’s something for everyone—including coaches—but our primary goal was to provide debaters with the information they need to confidently make the paperless transition.

As usual, you can download this special edition podcast directly or access it through iTunes. Special thanks to Ellis, Daniel, and Alex for making this podcast possible.

5 thoughts on “Special Edition Podcast: Paperless Debating

  1. Alex Resar

    could their be a discussion on flowing on a computer and debating paperless? is it possible to do both, tips for doing it, etc.


  2. Ellis

    probs a question for gulakov im kind of worthless for this since i flow on paper and dtay might not even flow at all

  3. Thomas Hodgman

    Alex – Peter and I both flowed on our computers while debating paperless for the majority of the last year.

    Some generic tips I can think of off of the top of my head.

    1. It's probably easier as a 2A/1N. You can ask Peter about some 2N specific things, or talk to me in a few months after I debate 2N at camp, but as a 2A I mostly wrote headers for the offcase and grabbed blocks (for the 2AC). For the 2AR there's no real difference, its all on the flow. 1NC is basically the same as 2AC, and you have so much time for the 1NR it doesn't really matter.

    2. Know when to write stuff on your speech and when to write stuff on your flow. As a 2A, I'd often write case args directly on my speech before the 2AC, and then either put in a block below it or a quick note of what to say.

    3. Have a good way to switch between flow and word. On my mac, I usually have at least 3 different spaces set up – 1 for my speech, 1 for files, and 1 for my flow.

    4. Having a speech/flow side by side is also really helpful. I think Gulakov has this for syngery – I know that peter made an applescript that does this function for macs.

    If you have any other questions, you can email me at thomas (dot) hodgman (at) gmail (dot) com

  4. Rohan Sadagopal

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-9774">
    Alex Resar :
    could their be a discussion on flowing on a computer and debating paperless? is it possible to do both, tips for doing it, etc.

    I did it. Granted my laptop's 18.4 inches, but if you have a big screen, going side by side is pretty easy (Synergy has a feature to do it, or you can use the snap feature on Windows 7).

    Alt+Tab is pretty cool too if you can deal with that

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