‘All known knowledge’ obscures rather than reveals
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants prosecutors in his federal corruption trial to play all 500 hours of the FBI’s secretly recorded tapes of his conversations.
“Of course,” I thought when I heard the news. “He’s practicing AKK.”
AKK is The New York Times’ acronym for “all known knowledge.” That’s where — instead of carefully sifting through the information on your topic and building a cogent argument out of it — you dump all that information on your audience members and let them sort it out.
AKK doesn’t inform people; it just numbs them.
And that’s what Blagojevich’s defense team is counting on: burying jurors under so much information that they can’t think. (This is also known as the “That document you requested is somewhere in this semi truck filled with paper” defense.)
Unlike Blagojevich, you actually want to help your audience members understand your topic. So your job isn’t to forward AKK; your job is to find a tight story angle on the topic and communicate it efficiently.
Except when you don’t want them to understand. And then, by all means, drown your audience members in data.