Menu Home

The light we steal when we learn

This extract from Danielle Allen’s superb Why Plato Wrote brought to life an issue which I’ve found myself returning to endlessly over the years. On pg 26 she talks about the Socratic disdain for writing and the capacity for teaching seen to inhere within them. When Socrates says that a […]

Your authorial fingerprint

From Going Public by Arlene Stein and Jessie Daniels, pg 80-81: An author’s voice is simply his or her “unique authorial fingerprint,” according to Theresa MacPhail, a New York University professor of science and technology studies. 19 If an author has a distinctive voice, she writes, “then we can often […]

Thinking with your feet 

In the last few years, I’ve noticed a pattern when I see photos of myself in front of an audience. I  am invariably tilting one foot forward as I talk, as in the attached photo from Andrew  Crane. Yet I have no awareness of doing it. Is this some strange […]

Losing yourself in Westeros

There are some wonderful reflections in this Guardian interview with George RR Martin on the writing process, the power of fiction and losing yourself in your work: When he’s really on a roll with his writing, “there are days when I sit down in the morning with my cup of coffee, I […]

Carrying a book around inside your head

As any regular reader of this blog will know, I’ve been working on The Distracted People of Digital Capitalism for over three years. I’ve made little progress in that time and my reliable line “I’m working on a book about distraction but I keep getting distracted” has begun to be depressing. But […]

Sociological micro-fiction

I encountered the notion of the drabble through reading Rob Kitchin’s fiction blog. These short stories of exactly 100 words can have a strange power to them, as little shards of reality that can be thrown out into the world. This is how Wikipedia describes the origins of the drabble: […]

Why do I write?

An exercise in free-writing, undertaken at a writing workshop at the Becoming Academic conference at the University of Sussex. I write to eliminate the clutter in my head, the accumulated debris which emerges within me as I make my way through the world, trying to understand my experiences as I […]

Do academics write badly because they’re rushing?

I saw the science journalist Simon Makin give an excellent talk yesterday on how social and natural scientists can make their writing clearer. He offered some excellent tips to this end, including assuming your reader is exactly as intelligent as you are, but has absolutely none of your knowledge. For this reason, clarity isn’t about being […]