You have reached the weblog of Wade Shilts.

Who am I? Well, for one, I’m associate professor of economics at Luther College. For another, I’m the manager and listener-in-chief of the educational and economic consulting company, Iterative Listening, LLC.

And sometime, perhaps fairly soon, I’ll have a full resume for you to link to, so you can be suitably impressed by or laugh about my “accomplishments.”

But, to be honest, that resume is of necessity going to be about the past. While we can, even in a flat world, learn from the past (part of that resume will tell you I hold a PhD in history), our actions can only change the future.

And this blog is focused on the future.

In particular, it will focus on how the future can, might, or will be shaped by our listening practices. You will find I am quite a fanatic about our collective listening (or lack thereof). In a time of rapid and accelerating change, both social and technological, effective listening becomes more important even as it becomes harder to do. Emphasizing my own interests in education, business, and law, this blog will as much as possible focus on how we might stumble toward better ways of listening to each other.

At least when I’m not ranting about something else.

And I do rant from time to time.  Despite my core beliefs in the value of iterative listening, I don’t always listen well.  I’ve had plenty of bad ideas over the years, made plenty of mistakes, and, unlike Sinatra, I’ve started my sixth decade with more than a few regrets.  When that resume does get posted, it’ll reveal some wrong turns I’ve taken along the way.

And I don’t expect to avoid all wrong turns on this blog, either.

Some of what I write will annoy, frustrate, puzzle, even anger you.  Sometimes getting such a reaction may be my goal. Other times it will simply be my inability to articulate what I’m trying to say.

And sometime I likely will give offense.  In other rhetorical contexts — my classroom, my meetings with clients — I’m going to strive not to give offense unless I consider it absolutely necessary.  But I am not going to worry much about giving offense or not giving offense on this blog.  Nor will you find me apologetic about what I say or asking others to apologize for what they say in their comments.

Postings, mine and others, are moderated only to avoid spam, not to ensure political correctness or maximize the revenue of Iterative Listening, LLC.

This is a place of stumbling around in the world of ideas.  Of iterating, not of concluding.  Of trying out arguments, not of winning them.  A place without speed limits, much less traffic cops.  A highway where litter and drunken drivers are allowed, even encouraged.

My only hope is that people on that highway most of the time will follow, as I strive to follow, the advice of my company’s tagline:

Listen.  Think.  Repeat.

All content of this blog, except comments added under names other than "Wade," are copyright © 2008, 2009 Wade E. Shilts