Writing for the Internet and researching on the Internet has given me a new sense of what is important in communicating ideas to readers. This is the order that I consider important:
1 Get the reader involved
2 Deliver the goods
3 Give adequate references
Delivering #3 first, as in lengthy introductions, is a waste of time and turns off readers.
Incredible ideas do not need a lengthy sales pitch. That is so 20th Century!
A recent email from a reader introduced me to Ernesto Sirolli, a man with remarkable ideas about local economic development. His ideas were so persuasive that people copied his book, Ripples from the Zambezi, and sent it to their friends.
I looked up his book on Amazon.com, read a few pages and the premise was so intriguing that I immediately ordered a copy.
I have now had the book for almost a week and have tried several times to get to the substance of his book with little success.
There are at least 15 pages of irrelevant fluff that you have to wade through before you come to the first page written by Ernesto himself. This fluff was written by well-meaning admirers, but it contributes very little to the reading experience of a first time reader.
From the few pages I’ve had time to read, the power of his book comes from his case studies and this meaty subject is wrapped in layers of trivia written by academics and administrators. This trivia should have been placed at the rear end of the book.
I will read the rest of Ripples from the Zambezi, now that I have clawed my way through the fluff, but I advise others to cut to the chase and begin the book somewhere around page 7 to get a feeling for Ernesto and his ideas.