A LINKING MESS: WEEK OF 12/09/13

I like to sift the good articles from the dross and share the good stuff with friends and coworkers. That’s the purpose of this column, incidentally. I read stuff, find things that are both informative and interesting to working professionals, and offer it for your consumption.

Writing is vulnerability — Harvard Business Review
This week’s three articles are actually short-ish blog entries, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of good content. In this first piece from Harvard Business Review, the writer stresses the importance of good, concise, economical writing in business. He wonders why manufacturers, for example, “spend millions on safety training to get people to wear hard hats, but spend very little to make sure their safety critical work instructions are written clearly.” Hear, hear. (But I would argue that a hyphen is needed in the phrase “safety-critical work instructions.”) He also writes that writing is personal, and it exposes a writer’s vulnerabilities.

Two spaces after periods? — The Economist
Here’s another piece about writing (sorry!). The premise is that writing rules are far more flexible than most people would probably guess, especially today. And that goes double for marketing writing, which is famously pliable. The article starts with the incendiary discussion of whether typing two spaces after periods is actually wrong. Well, to me it is. But, as the article states, it’s obviously not a grammar error – it’s more of an aesthetic one. In virtually all copy that is published, even on the internet, one space is part of the prevailing style. No, Facebook doesn’t count, although Facebook entries are a great resource if you like to judge people based on their writing skills.

PR drones — Talent Zoo
This is a short note about how Amazon co-opted the Thanksgiving news with a story about how the company might someday deliver packages via drone. This is only a remote possibility (get it, remote?), and the logistical problems with it are too numerous to mention (OK, I’ll mention a less obvious one: people will start shooting down the drones for sport or treasure). But by making the announcement, Amazon was part of the four-day Thanksgiving news cycle, which is infinitely valuable because millions of Americans, in addition to consuming turkey, are also consuming large amounts of media. Hey, on another note, have you heard that drones are being used in the South to cull the feral hog population? 

 

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