What is machine learning? A psychedelic graphical journey

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You must always treat the reader’s time as more valuable than your own. That’s the Iron Imperative, and it’s just as valid for graphics as it is for text. If you find yourself endlessly fiddling with with an elaborate diagram, ask yourself, “Is this really helping?” Then get help from a decent graphic artist. When … Continued

Editing brilliant thinkers

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I’ve been working with brilliant thinkers this month. Their brilliance doesn’t make them great writers — in fact, it sometimes gets in the way. The brilliant thinker often falls into what you might call the professor mode. After studying a subject in great deal — and often after accumulating massive amounts of experience — they … Continued

How to make sure your book sucks

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You don’t need to do all of these things to make your nonfiction book suck, but the more you do, the worse it will be. Never for a moment consider who the book is for. If anyone asks, just say “It’s perfect for everyone.” Start writing without an idea. Keep every word of your musings … Continued

Where do you find stories for your book? (Ask Dr. Wobs)

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Business books are made of stories. Where do they come from? Here’s today’s question: Dear Dr. Wobs  I am writing a business book and want to supplement my own experiences with relevant business anecdotes. (Google is virtually useless, although maybe I’m just doing it wrong.) Any suggestions? — Jack Finding stories We’re hard-wired to remember … Continued

Writing, washing dishes, flow, and pleasure

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I have a confession to make. I really enjoy doing the dishes. (And yes, this has something to do with writing advice.) At my house, it is my wife’s job to cook and my job to do the dishes. This is good, because she is an excellent cook and I am terrible. She could do … Continued

Talking sense about acronyms, initialisms, abbreviations, and neologisms

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Acronyms are cool, but they’re not all equal. The copy editors’ rule that once you introduce an acronym or initialism you must always use it in subsequent text, is bullshit. I’m here to propose a better way to think about acronyms. There are terms that are cumbersome to write and cumbersome to read. To help … Continued

Writing in flow is not a Markov process

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Writers follow the flow. But if you don’t keep track of the destination, the flow will lead you astray. Let me explain, using the mathematical concept of a Markov process. What is a Markov Process? You’re familiar with Markov processes, even if you don’t realize it. A Markov process is one in which the likely … Continued

Clear communication and customer experience: The wisdom of Ingrid Lindberg

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Ingrid Lindberg, the world’s first customer experience officer, is a groundbreaking figure in the discipline of customer experience (CX). She comes to the analysis of corporate writing from a CX perspective. I love her principles, which I’ll give a sample of here. I first came upon Lindberg in researching my most recent book. This passage … Continued