Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
How you learn writing and where you do it are important. Plus, data analysis is creeping into literary analysis.
Your writing area:
Whether or not you have a designated writing area in your home, you’ve read somewhere the prevailing tips for what you need: desk, window, maybe a plant.
In a new writing blog for Parade
, Amy Kierce writes about hers without mentioning any of these clichéd pieces. Instead of a desk, just make sure it’s a flat surface; in place of a plant, put up a ribbon you’ve won somewhere; tape notes to the wall, and make sure your area is attractive.
She lists several others that you can read here
. I have only the flat surface, because it’s the kitchen table. Where do you write?
Every teacher is a writing teacher:
The Writing Across Curriculum (WAC) approach to writing education seems to be gaining ground these days, though the idea has been around for more than 100 years. It basically says that students should learn to apply writing in any and all classes where there’s a need to put pen to paper.
This makes complete sense if only for the fact that there are a shocking number of journalism students, PR pros, journalists—people paid or aspiring to be paid to, in part, write—who lack basic writing fundamentals. It also makes sense because of what writing is:
Writing is thinking made manifest. If students cannot think clearly, they will not write well. So in this respect, writing is tangible evidence of critical thinking—or the lack of it—and is a helpful indicator of how students construct knowledge out of information.
Social media vs. writing (again):
The world comprises two kinds of people: those who think social media produces horrible writers (such as those who support WAC, I suspect), and those who think it’s nurturing the greatest generation of writers the world has ever known.
Actor/writer B.J. Novak of “The Office” told Mashable
he believes it’s the latter. Says Novak, “I think there’s a chance we’ll have a better generation of writers than we’ve ever had because of the social media age.”
Do you agree?
[WORKSHOP: Advanced Writing and Editing for the Corporate Communicator. Dates in 4 cities: Chicago, Washington, D.C., Toronto and Denver.]
Entire industries and a new—or newly popular—kind of journalism have sprouted up around data. It’s everywhere, and it tells a pretty good story.
So, of course, why not dig in to the data of storytelling? In a way, that’s what Franco Moretti is doing with his new approach to literary criticism. Through large literature databases and algorithms that can pick them apart, Moretti has created a way to analyze swaths of literature without having to read any of it.
He’s written a book of essays about it, and the research goes on, as he explains in this interview with Salon
When Galileo built his first good telescope, he discovered that the Milky Way was not a mush, but a collection of stars. We have tools that allow us to do the same thing, but we haven’t yet made discoveries that are even remotely comparable to those of astronomy once telescopes were invented. But the hope is that these tools, by allowing us to see so much more, will also allow us to change our image of the culture.
Happy Bard Day to you:
On a final note, the one and only William Shakespeare celebrated a birthday this week. In honor of the occasion, Poynter took a closer look at one of the Bard’s best sentences.
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.