Sometimes I get emails that are more than two pages long, attempting to explain a problem. I’m going to tell you something: All career problems can be described in under 100 words. If you are going over 100 words, you don’t know your problem. If you are going over 1000 words, it’s because your self-knowledge is really bad, so that is your problem.
If you are passing another car on a two-lane road and are confronted with a car coming toward you, there are two things you can do: accelerate or brake. You should brake; in all cars, the brakes are…
PASSING A CAR
So often any film that comes out is going to be a sequel or a remake of a film that’s previously existed — and I’ve said this before, that we will see Johnny Depp playing Cap'n Crunch. It will eventually get down to breakfast cereal mascots!
Advice for the creative writer, yes. But the student? My manager is taking a summer class and his teacher told the class, "Don't write down what I say. Write down what you feel about what I say." Interesting advice for a note-taker who's thinking about regurgitating the content for the next test. My reporting background feeds into my natural tendencies to observe and notate, to somehow duplicate what I'm reading or listening to in class; it's distancing. Paraphrasing what the teacher says during a lecture is a good idea, but the cognitive load of paraphrasing something said a minute ago in my own words as new content is also streaming in is too much for me.
But I like the idea of recording my reactions in class, even if they're baffled. It's fast, it's in the moment, it hooks me. Engage me on the emotional level, and I'm halfway there. That said, I can see this strategy applying more to issues-oriented topics than information retrieval algorithms. But it's a new tool I definitely want to try out this fall.
- Even a tech writer learns to use dashed lines for impromptu diagrams, but it takes a designer to delineate more of its uses. (I probably got this link from the essential xblog, which is a must-read in my RSS library.)
- Convenience and impermanence. But look at the size of that keyboard! And her happy smile! This is one of the issues that’s ruefully discussed in some of my SILS classes, particularly the digital archiving and electronic records courses. It’s become one of those burdens we’ve chosen to shoulder, I think, without really examining why we do it in the first place. Or rather, we propose lots of solutions as we try to understand the problem, which is likely not a technological one at all.
- I love homilies and rules of thumb, and this Zhurnaly page collects a great set from Physicist David Stearn. It traverses the small (write yourself notes and index them) to the large (“Being a physicist is a great privilege. Be worthy of it. Most of humanity spends its life doing boring repetitive tasks.”). Here’s a slightly different version by Stern from his web page.
- Desktop wallpaper-sized images of overstuffed bookshelves.
The bottom line is that you should never spend more than $1500 on art unless you know at least roughly what it is worth at auction. One of life’s good rules of thumb.
Attempting to sell people something for four hundred pounds that merely enables them to read something that they won’t buy at one hundredth of the price seems to me a thankless task.
Publishing has only two indispensable participants: authors and readers. As with music, any technology that brings these two groups closer makes the whole industry more efficient—but hurts those who benefit from the distance between them.