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August 11, 2011

Slate looks at theories of how to write faster

How to write faster. - By Michael Agger - Slate Magazine
. . . Kellogg, a psychologist at Saint Louis University, tours the research in the field, where many of the landmarks are his own. Some writers are "Beethovians" who disdain outlines and notes and instead "compose rough drafts immediately to discover what they have to say." Others are "Mozartians"—cough, cough—who have been known to "delay drafting for lengthy periods of time in order to allow for extensive reflection and planning." According to Kellogg, perfect-first-drafters and full-steam-aheaders report the same amount of productivity. Methinks someone is lying. And feel free to quote this line the next time an editor is nudging you for copy: "Although prewriting can be brief, experts approaching a serious writing assignment may spend hours, days, or weeks thinking about the task before initiating the draft." The scientifically-tested fun facts abound. Ann Chenoweth and John Hayes (2001) found that sentences are generated in a burst-pause-evaluate, burst-pause-evaluate pattern, with more experienced writers producing longer word bursts. A curly-haired girl on a white porch swing on a hot summer day will be more likely to remember what you've written if you employ concrete language—so says a 1995 study. S. K. Perry reports that the promise of money has a way of stimulating writerly "flow." Amazing! One also finds dreadful confirmation of one's worst habits: "Binge writing—hypomanic, euphoric marathon sessions to meet unrealistic deadlines—is generally counterproductive and potentially a source of depression and blocking," sums up the work of Robert Boice. One strategy: Try to limit your working hours, write at a set time each day, and try your best not to emotionally flip out or check email every 20 seconds. This is called "engineering" your environment. Kellogg is always careful to emphasize the extreme cognitive demands of writing, which is very flattering. "Serious writing is at once a thinking task, a language task, and a memory task," he declares. It requires the same kind of mental effort as a high-level chess match or an expert musical performance. We are all aspiring Mozarts indeed. So what's holding us back? How does one write faster? Kellogg terms the highest level of writing as "knowledge-crafting." In that state, the writer's brain is juggling three things: the actual text, what you plan to say next, and—most crucially—theories of how your imagined readership will interpret what's being written. A highly skilled writer can simultaneously be a writer, editor, and audience. . . .

August 07, 2011

"Even The Death Penalty Doesn’t Deter Copying"

And When Even The Death Penalty Doesn’t Deter Copying —...

Thank God someone is documenting this stuff so that it can someday be tattooed on the lower-back of a twentysomething white girl

The Eerie Beauty of Rare Alphabets - Edward Tenner -...

August 03, 2011

If you're a "social media guru" and you ain't doing what this guy is, then we don't need to talk...

'cause I honestly couldn't give a fuck less about your...

August 02, 2011

At the extremes of readability in typeface: Dyslexie

Dyslexie, A Typeface Designed To Help Dyslexics Read | Co....

July 27, 2011

How To: Make a Flower Pot Fridge

*Thanks, Annie!*

July 23, 2011

The New York Times has a five page story on DWARF FORTRESS

This is a game of such depth and addictiveness that I am terrified to try it. The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress - NYTimes.com
Dwarf Fortress is barely a blip on the mainstream radar, but it’s an object of intense cult adoration. Its various versions have been downloaded in the neighborhood of a million times, although the number of players who have persisted past an initial attempt is doubtless much smaller. As with popular simulation games like the Sims series, in which players control households, or the Facebook fad FarmVille, where they tend crops, players in Dwarf Fortress are responsible for the cultivation and management of a virtual ecosystem — in this case, a colony of dwarves trying to build a thriving fortress in a randomly generated world. Unlike those games, though, Dwarf Fortress unfolds as a series of staggeringly elaborate challenges and devastating setbacks that lead, no matter how well one plays, to eventual ruin. The goal, in the game’s main mode, is to build as much and as imaginatively as possible before some calamity — stampeding elephants, famine, vampire dwarves — wipes you out for good. Though its medieval milieu of besieged castles and mutant enemies may be familiar, Dwarf Fortress appeals mainly to a substratum of hard-core gamers. The game’s unofficial slogan, recited on message boards, is “Losing is fun!” Dwarf Fortress’s unique difficulty begins with its most striking feature: The way it looks. In an industry obsessed with pushing the frontiers of visual awe, Dwarf Fortress is a defiant throwback, its interface a dense tapestry of letters, numbers and crude glyphs you might have seen in a computer game around 1980. A normal person looks at and sees gibberish, but the Dwarf Fortress initiate sees a tense tableau: a dog leashed to a tree, about to be mauled by a goblin.
*thanks, Helder!*