After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

Effective Writing Isn’t Necessarily Sparse Expression

Posted on November 21, 2014
Filed Under Communication, The Writing Life | Leave a Comment

There’s a lot of interest in the subject, or style, of minimalist writing – using the fewest words possible to make a point, have impact, be clear. Google the subject, and you’ll find lots of links to a yeasty (that is extensive, rather than minimal) debate. Within limits, being sparse is admirable, so long as you communicate what you’re aiming to say. Ernest Hemingway was one of the early masters of modern minimalism, and his writing is gripping, whatever a comparative word-count with earlier writers might be.

Efficient writing? It all depends on the purpose involved.

Technical-WritingGood writing, actually, is a form of good manners. It’s an imposition on readers to confront them with verbosity, unnecessary words added for “show”. By now, that should be an inarguable literary principle. Good writing, though, isn’t always minimal writing – it’s appropriate writing, well-suited to the characters, purpose or setting being presented in words.

In the discipline of technical writing, we’d add the all-important element not merely of purpose, but specific purpose. In providing instructions to readers on how to accomplish a given procedure both efficiently and safely you want to be as clear as possible. In a technical context, clarity often means providing necessary details and cautions, while in minimalist fiction too many details or grammatical complexities might be considered an imposition on the reader.

In effective technical writing, you want to provide all the necessary details, but in as economical, that is as orderly, not necessarily as sparse, a manner, as possible.

On Google, you’ll be lead, right off, to a post by Jessica Dang on her Minimal Student blog. She is devoted to principles of minimalism in living, not only in writing. But her “Complete Guide to Minimalist Writing,” runs on a bit, presumably what happens when you are highly enthusiastic about a subject.

Writing comes down to a style appropriate to the purpose and need involved. Excessively sparse instructions – we’ve all encountered them – can be frustrating, as annoying as plot twists we’ve not been adequately prepared for. In technical writing, you’re not seeking to create a mood or resolve a crisis, but to avoid one. You’re promoting a mode of safe, economical action, and that takes a fully appropriate body of words to accomplish. – Doug Bedell

Printing Out Life’s Accessory Items – Your Very Own Shower Head!

Posted on November 12, 2014
Filed Under Technology | Leave a Comment

Running to keep up with technology? How about keeping abreast of 3D printing – you’ll need to expend a couple of extra pumps for that! The last we heard a while back, 3D printing was a curiosity with eventual marketing potential. Now, only a short while later, it seems, we find Matt Stultz on the Make website blogging about “3D Printing Around The Home: The Bathroom.” He’s spending a week focusing on 3D printing in the home, with the bathroom being his first installment.

dinoshowerYes, once you equip yourself with a 3D printer (they seem to be going for around $1,500, but that’s only after a quick look on Amazon), you can actually “manufacture” such items as shower curtain hooks, a drain snake, sink or toilet parts, or a bright red T-Rex shower head. (That certainly beats the old, chrome spray-head we’ve had there forever – it’s almost worth the price of the printer all by itself!)

Matt is also suggesting 3D-printed items for the kitchen or workshop among, no doubt, other rooms. Before long, we’d bet, you’ll be able to print out a dwelling to accommodate them afresh!

rubberduckOh, about the bathroom – we forgot to mention that, along with keeping your shower “a happy place,” in Matt’s words, you can also print out your own version of the ultimate bathtub accessory, a rubber ducky! Now, haven’t we made your day, and given you something truly worthwhile to save up for? You can thank Matt and Make for that, though.

Now, think what you could do with a 3D printer around the office, or maybe not. – Doug Bedell 

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