July 17th, 2003

breaking bad

bush telegraph

I have been feeling excruciating embarrassment about being taken in by the 'Bambi' story the other day. This was slightly ameliorated by the fact that the Guardian was taken in too. It was posted as a factual story this morning. Arising from that - have you noticed that stories routinely break in blogs a couple of days before they appear in the newspapers, nowadays.

This applies to the kind of story which consists of attention being drawn to an on-going situation. A sudden newsworthy event (let's say a statesman being assassinated) would probably hit the news media first. Though come to think of it, I heard that 'something was going on with the world trade centre' by an email to a mailing list I subscribe to, before I heard it reported on the BBC.
breaking bad


Edblog points to a succinct article on how crap academic writing can be.

Many scholars believe their peers will judge them harshly if they don't write that way... a pressing question to the universities: Is it now mandatory to write badly?

A most pressing question. I believe that in many fields, not just academia, the pressures to write badly are stronger than the pressures to write well. This is because pellucid writing increases the vulnerability of the writer (to being proved wrong, for example). In our current climate, the reduction of vulnerability is the stronger motivator.

One must be seen to be performing the act of communication, but one must not actually communicate. There is therefore a tacit conspiracy of pseudo-communication: I will pretend to speak, you will pretend to hear.

I am currently involved in writing a number of corporate documents, and sometimes I feel as if my job is to embellish pseudo-communication until it is devoid of content.

In order to deliver our aims systemically, we will deploy a range of enabling processes to maximise their impact

At the same time there is great attention to the grammar, spelling, and format of documents. These are important but secondary considerations. Having something clear to communicate, and setting about the task with gusto, are far more important IMHO, and increasingly unlikely to be found.