Friday, May 23, 2008

Some interesting insights on argumentation and writing

This week I stumbled across an interesting site by a well-known IT expert, Paul Graham. His site has a variety of purposes, including attracting people with good start up proposals. What I found interesting and worth blogging about were two articles on communication -- or perhaps I should say, rhetoric.

One is probably intended as a guide for people who have never thought very seriously about the structure of arguments, but as Internet users now find themselves involved in quite a few of them. One might call this a pocket guide to rhetoric and dialectic.

Then there's a very short but useful discussion of how Graham thinks effective writing can be accomplished. The essence of the article is:

As for how to write well, here's the short version: Write a bad version 1 as fast as you can; rewrite it over and over; cut out everything unnecessary; write in a conversational tone; develop a nose for bad writing, so you can see and fix it in yours; imitate writers you like; if you can't get started, tell someone what you plan to write about, then write down what you said; expect 80% of the ideas in an essay to happen after you start writing it, and 50% of those you start with to be wrong;...

Oops, I'm duplicating the essay.


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