Always Bet on Text

Graydon Hoare offers a rousing hymn to the virtues of text. Don’t get me wrong, I like me some illustrations, photos, movies and music. But text wins by a mile. Text is everything. My thoughts on this are quite absolute: text is the most powerful, useful, effective communication technology ever, period. Text is the oldest and most stable communication technology (assuming we treat speech/signing as natural phenomenon — there are…

I know stuff must be important to people who don’t spend their evenings generating 1400-word memos.

In my defense, I broke that long email down so the recipient (my chair) really only has to read about three bullet points in order to grasp the “Action Item” section… but then I had to *write* all those “just in case this become important later” details, and corral them under increasingly woebegone subheads like “Background/Still More Details” and “Heading Even Further Down This Rabbit Hole.”

Advice for My Conservative Students

A professor who had been a conservative undergraduate (but who now identifies as libertarian-left) offers advice to red students who feel marginalized in a blue academy. Take the tremendous opportunity of a college education to sharpen your skills and deepen your knowledge. Read Edmund Burke, Matthew Arnold, Russell Kirk, Thomas Sowell, Michael Oakeshott and Peggy Noonan. Acknowledge arguments you disagree with on their own terms, and respond to their substance.…

I touched up an intro to hypertext essays from 2000.

When I initially wrote this introduction to hypertext essays in 2000, my assumption was that readers would be experienced writers who already knew what an essay was, so that I could use that knowledge to differentiate between an ordinary essay and a hypertext essay. By 2017, we are teaching “multimodal composition” in our freshman writing classes. Some of the students come in with great writing skills (and I always tell them…

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Close reading is hard to do in a state of normalized outrage.

So this “Muslim ban” thing… is a ban or not? Does it even have to do with Muslims or not? In the Washington Post, scholar Tom Nichols writes: Trump promised a Muslim ban during the campaign. But the executive order now running into multiple challenges is not actually a Muslim ban: It affects the citizens, regardless of faith, of several Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa but has…

America’s Shakespeare

Shakespeare continues to be the most performed playwright in the United States, but his appeal has a global extension, and it has long been so. Sublimity has ever called to sublimity. The great modern nations boast great writers who depict and define the national life and character: Victor Hugo for the French, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for the Germans, Leo Tolstoy the Russians, Herman Melville and Mark Twain the Americans,…