The letdown

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I’m turning in a very big project in a couple of days. I know what to expect. Sadness. It’s not regret. The book is great. The prose lives. Sure, it has warts, but it’s a major piece of work. I feel pride. I feel accomplishment. But also, sadness. When you’ve wrestled with a project this … Continued

The three kinds of facts and how to verify them

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When people find out I write books, they often ask, “Do you write fiction?” My answer: “Not on purpose.” I deal in facts. But not all facts come from the same place. Here are the three kinds of facts (plus one kind of non-fact) and how to make sure they’re true. Sourced facts What they … Continued

Writing a book with Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Drive

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I’ve been working on a collaborative book project with two other authors. On this project, I’m the principal writer; they are my clients. Here are a few things I learned about the superiority of Google Docs and Google Sheets for collaborative authoring. Using Google Drive for shared access to research My collaborators and I work … Continued

That study about using two spaces after a period? It’s bullshit.

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The Washington Post reported on a study showing that adding two spaces after a period improves readability. Now all the use-two-spaces philistines are using this to justify their depraved practices. But the study proves nothing. Three researchers at Skidmore College, Rebecca L. Johnson, Becky Bui, and Lindsay L. Schmitt, published a paper called “Are two spaces … Continued

Airline jargon explained

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In any industry, there are words that industry insiders use to make everyone else feel confused and inferior. The difference is, with airlines, the insiders are flying the plane and serving you in the cabin, and you’re literally strapped in and powerless to escape. So here’s an airline-jargon-to-English dictionary, with help from Ask the Pilot … Continued

The best and worst of Elon Musk’s bizarre and arrogant investor call

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Elon Musk conducted Tesla’s Q1 investor call last week — and behaved in an arrogant manner completely unlike any typical CEO, insulting analysts and correcting his own executives. I’m all for more directness in communication, but Musk is appearing unhinged — and Tesla’s stock took a dive immediately after his bizarre performance. Quarterly analyst calls … Continued

An analysis of Twitter’s screwup (with comments from Melissa Agnes)

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Twitter screwed up and wrote everybody’s passwords to a file in plaintext. Then (of course) they apologized. Can we do better with these apologies? And what’s the fallout from this incident? Here’s an analysis and a conversation with Crisis Communication expert Melissa Agnes, author of Crisis Ready. This is getting routine. And that’s the problem. At … Continued