Where bad grammar guides come from?

Why are there so many poor grammar and style guides, out there? One common problem is that they simply parrot the errors of the past, losing the subtlety of the original along the way. Presumably, in the name of clarity. Here’s an interesting piece from the Economist on 18th century grammarian Robert Lowth, whose prejudices […]

Do you want truth or coherence? #writing

It seems we prefer coherence to inconvenient truth, according to a 2019 research paper covered in the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest. That helps to explain why a political party (in particular) can risk an outrageous, but plausible, lie. Even when followed by a less “interesting” or coherent truth, it’s often the tasty lie that […]

The oldest story ever told?

Is the oldest story ever told, 37,000 years old? It’s hard to date hand-me-down tales in the oral tradition, but The Times reports on a theory that aligns an Australian Aboriginal legend with a volcanic eruption. We’ve previously pointed to this research that traced some Indo-European folk-tales back to the Bronze Age. Photo by Gary Saldana on Unsplash

Footnotes as foot soldiers #contentmarketing

… in the disinformation wars. Here’s an interesting take on the power of a well-deployed footnote… More than ever, we need what this tool provides: accountability and transparency. “Fiddling with footnotes” is the kind of hygienic practice that our era of information pollution needs — and needs to be shared as widely as possible. Footnotes […]

Stories, villains and evolutionary psychology

Here’s an interesting piece on the evolutionary importance of baddies in stories. Far from being escapist titillation, Kjeldgaard-Christiansen thinks that creating these tales may in fact have an evolutionary purpose. Taking these short trips into the dark sides of our natures, and seeing good triumph over evil, helps us to reaffirm our altruistic tendencies, leading […]

In pursuit of magic

Magic, marketing and anomalistic psychology – @RogerDooley, @MattLTompkins

Magic and marketing both rely on directed attention. The conjurer directs the audience away from the palmed coin while the marketer directs it towards the big, shiny, buy button. But attention is a fickle animal. If you’ve never seen the video below, I urge you to watch it now. It’s just 1:21, but it’s impossible […]

Sci-fi for scenario planning

The French army turns to sci-fi writers to imagine the future. Here’s an interesting article from the BBC news site. It was retweeted by Sci Futures who, although not involve in this project, specialise in exactly this sort of approach for business and government. In summary, the French military has engaged a team of sci-fi […]

10 words – @ThisIsSeth

For writers, a sobering thought from Seth Godin: Ten words per page That’s how many words get scanned the first time through. Perhaps five on a billboard. Which means that your memo, your ad, your announcement, your post–you get ten words. He’s right. Read the rest, here. Photo by Romain Vignes on Unsplash

Write

Write simply – @ThisIsSeth

Seth Godin on the importance of simply writing, but writing simply: Overwriting has a long tradition, particularly among academics. Make it a bit more complex and wordy than it needs to be. Write run-on sentences. Apparently, complicated writing must be more true. One reason for this commitment to overwriting is that it keeps the hordes […]

cognitive load

Cognitive load – @ThisIsSeth

Cognitive load is a challenge for content writers … and the answer is NOT more muzak. How do you engage without overloading?

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