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Innovation, Grammar Books and Wishlists

A bogus CNN parody article

A weblog about international development.

Don Boudreaux summarizes an economic analysis that innovators reap only about 2% of an innovation’s value. But Grant McCracken wonders:

Maybe, it?s the sheer excitement of going ?where no man has gone before.? Maybe it?s a willful, contrarian, anarchic wish to defy convention. Maybe it?s the sheer pleasure of building a bridge as we go, in real time, with no net, with the clear knowledge that we have no knowledge. This is intellectual weightlessness. It?s an opportunity, for a brief moment, to escape the gravitational pull of culture. For a moment, we exist “out”?of culture, convention, the body, and our minds.

Great interesting posts by clive Thompson: Analyzing Data and Kuhn , Frank Wilson’s hand metaphor as it applies to keyboarding (Frank Wilson has a book on the subject). BTW, I have found lots of cool looks from Thompson’s site. I’m still in the archives.

Dan Green’s decries Strunk & White’s reductionism about writing and style.

There are of course situations when writers should want both clarity and concision, but there are others when being clear is not the point (at least not simply at the sentence level) and when fewer words amounts simply to a poverty of expression, even when paring away at your sentence length is possible. This issue could be dealt with through a modest directive: Be as clear as you need to be and as concise as your purpose requires.

I think people rave about Elements of Style more for its simplicity than its helpfulness and applicability. My favorite sentence in Strunk and White: “Write with nouns and verbs.” In other words: adjectives, adverbs and all the other things interfere with the narrative flow–delightful though they may be. The subject and verb are the main elements here and deserve to be emphasized. There’s nothing wrong with straight subject-verb-object constructions, and in fact there may be many things right with them. A truism? Perhaps.

What I like about Strunk and White is that he writes at two levels: one, for the student of writing, and two for professional writers. Even some of the book’s examples violate the book’s maxims, and I get the sense that they are having a joke with us. The last rule (allowing us to break any of the rules if obedience makes the sentence sound more awkward) offers some flexibility and a starting point for real writing.

Here’s my Amazon wishlist. Got to thinking about it after Little Professor talked about using it to organize recommendations for future reference. Hey, I do that too! Oddly enough, Amazon’s recommendation system can have uncanny accuracy.

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