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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Catching up with my reading

Amazing what you can fit into a few days when the OU offices are shut & there's no marking to do....

Have finally read Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves, the punctuation best-seller. I liked that a lot & can quite understand why it became so popular. It treats dry topics such as semi-colons & misplaced apostrophes with the kind of fervent levity you would normally associate with newsgroups/blogs - in short, a web writer's voice addressing a bookish subject (in a book, of course....).

Then tonight I got halfway through David Weinberger's Small Pieces Loosely Joined (his follow-up to The Cluetrain Manifesto). That's good fun too, on a much broader canvas. A philosophy teacher turned software marketer turned web theorist, he takes a bunch of Big Concepts (time, space, that sort of stuff) & looks at how the web gives them an alternate meaning.

My favourite chapter so far is Perfection, where he argues persuasively & humourously that the web's 'brokenness' is its strength: its flaws are precisely what make it human & therefore attractive, overcoming corporate glossiness, political correctness & all the other little strategies used in the 'real world' to cover up our deep embarassment at failing to achieve perfection. Weinberger says it all far better than my summary!

4 Comments:

  • At 28 December, 2005 07:04, Blogger Bill said…

    I found Eats, shoots and leaves OK, but I was disappointed with the numerous punctuation mistakes the book itself contains - pointed out by a New Yorker magazine article. The book loses effect and value with every error.

    I also felt the layout was all wrong - wide margins, large typeface, and small pages gives a false impression of how many words you actually get.

    On a positive note, the book has made me far more aware of punctuation.

     
  • At 28 December, 2005 11:27, Blogger Bluefluff said…

    Bill - interesting review, but I wonder if it referred to a duff US edition? My 2005 paperback doesn't seem to have these flaws (I checked a random selection of them)- indeed it doesn't even have the foreword that comes in for such scathing comment. Besides, what leaves a writer's keyboard is not necessarily what eventually appears on the printed page.

     
  • At 28 December, 2005 15:08, Blogger Bill said…

    Perhaps it was just the original 2003 hardback and has since been corrected. As far as I know they went against publishing conventions and didn't make any changes to the US reprint.

    I wanted two things from the book - a readable look at punctuation, and an accurate reference. It was certainly readable, but I lost faith in the accuracy. Even the front cover - the phrase "The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" - shouldn't that be "The Zero Tolerance Approach to Incorrect Punctuation"?

    I'm probably just being a pedant as the book was a bestseller; and perhaps punctuation is becoming less important today...

     
  • At 30 December, 2005 18:26, Blogger kat said…

    Small Pieces Loosely Joined

    I've not read this book but as I am about to go shopping at amazon.co.uk.............. :-)

    Eats, Shoots & Leaves

    I read this some time ago and enjoyed the humour in it.

     

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