When to break my writing rules

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My most popular post ever included ten writing tips and the psychology behind them. On social media, I see people reading these tips with no context and objecting. “Passive voice is perfectly fine,” they say, or, “You wouldn’t get very far if you only used short sentences.” You want to break my rules? I’m here … Continued

Insights from ABC’s pitch-perfect slap-down of Roseanne Barr — plus commentary by Melissa Agnes

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On Twitter, Roseanne Barr described Obama’s aide Valerie Jarrett as the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes. After this profoundly offensive and racist statement, ABC cancelled the very popular reboot of Barr’s sitcom “Roseanne.” ABC’s statement was the epitome of brevity, clarity, and punch: Statement by Channing Dungey, president, ABC Entertainment Roseanne’s … Continued

The power of doubt

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When you’re making your decisions on a day-to-day basis, how often do you: Know you are right . . . . vs. wonder if you are wrong. See from your own perspective . . . vs. see from someone else’s. Feel certain you can make a deadline . . . vs. doubt if you can … Continued

To break the rules, you have to know the rules

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Yvonne Mason, a former teacher, recently posted a picture of a letter she got from the president, with her corrections. This president prides himself on breaking senseless rules, including many grammar rules. It raises an interesting question: when is breaking rules an act of defiance that creates change, and when is it just laziness? Let’s … Continued

Can you have fun with a GDPR announcement? JibJab did

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Your mailbox is full of GDPR announcements. They’re obligatory, and you’re almost certainly ignoring them. Writing in this context is a challenge — but humor and video site jibjab.com decided to have a little fun with it. On the policy side, though, it’s still legalese all the way down. Here’s the email my friend got … Continued

The Trump Administration’s take on Artificial Intelligence (AI)

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Over 100 government, academic, business, and technology leaders gathered at the White House recently to discuss Artificial Intelligence (AI). While there may have been intelligence in the room, very little was visible in the resulting document. The summary of the meeting is here. What is the government’s role in AI? While the government can help fund … Continued

How the White House suckered liberals by calling MS-13 gang members “animals”

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The White House web site’s announcement about the MS-13 gang called them “animals” ten times in 439 words. This is master-level trolling — it drove the Web crazy, just as planned. Let’s examine what’s really going on here. Calling people, even gang members, “animals” is provocative to say the least. Dehumanizing people can be a … Continued

Adobe acquires Magento to become “shoppable” — and maximally buzzword-compliant

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Adobe announced yesterday that it would acquire commerce platform Magento for $1.68 billion. It’s clear that an army of lawyers and PR people spent days crafting the 1001-word announcement, with is laden with highly refined, state-of-the-art tech-vendor bullshit. So let’s take the announcement apart. I’ll highlight jargon in bold and meaningless weasel words in italic, and … Continued