Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report spawns predictable cliches

Mary Meeker’s latest 197-slide Internet Trends report is not bullshit. While some of the stats on the slides are questionable, overall it’s a pretty interesting, international grab-bag of facts. My issue is with what comes next — media and analyst cliché predictions based on those facts. In the tech world, predictions are predictable. There’s a cliché for each stage of technology … Continued

I give you the courage to say what you mean

After two months on my own, I’ve finally figured out what I’m doing. My purpose is to give you the courage to say what you mean. I wasn’t sure what kinds of people my ideas would resonate with. I haven’t pushed consulting, because I wasn’t sure who needed a writing counselor obsessed with rooting out bullshit. Here’s who asked about my services. … Continued

11 key planning tips for writers and the psychology behind them

Crappy writing springs from crappy planning. Like an architect, plan before you build. On a project that takes weeks or months to write, spend at least one day on planning. Follow these planning tips to maximize your chance to create something great. In this post, I show you how to lay the groundwork for a writing project like … Continued

Truth and lies about Charter/Time Warner Cable Merger

You’re going to read a lot about this cable merger. Most of it will be bullshit. Here is the truth (based on more than a decade of closely watching the cable and TV industries): These cable operators will tell regulators that the efficiencies in this merger will enable them to improve customer service. But customer service … Continued

The bullshit in Philadelphia Magazine’s “No Bullshit Mayoral Election Guide”

Elections and bullshit go together. That’s why I was intrigued to get several suggestions to analyze Philadelphia Magazine’s “No Bullshit Mayoral Election Guide.” Sadly, I think bullshit is an essential element of all election guides, including this one. Patrick Kerkstra, writing in Philadelphia Magazine, describes his guide this way: … [W]e’ve put together this bottom-line assessment of the … Continued

Farhad Manjoo misinterprets the history of tech adoption

Writing in the New York Times, Farhad Manjoo decries “A Tech Boom Aimed at the Few, Instead of the World.” But he ignores the history of how successful tech adoption inevitably spreads experiences to everyone. According to Manjoo: The tech industry used to think big. . . . These were dreams of vast breadth: The founders of … Continued

Word pollution

Lack of discipline pollutes your writing. Multiply by the whole world of “content creators” and we’re all consuming brown, dirty prose. I’ve spent time in Beijing and São Paulo. While the people were wonderful, the air was awful. A light brown miasma cast a pall on everything, making our eyes itch and making every incredible cityscape appear … Continued

Why can’t an insurance company talk like a person?

My insurance company Vermont Mutual was kind enough to pay my claim for house damage after this awful winter. But before I repair my house, I’d like remodel their customer communication. Vermont Mutual deserves a lot of credit. They were speedy to send an assessor to check the damage, and paid a fair amount. In … Continued