Tag Archives: tips

Avoid Boring Writing: Tips (to Avoid) from Scientific Articles

Most sci­entif­ic papers con­sist of “pre­dict­able, stil­ted struc­ture and lan­guage”, lead­ing to con­sist­ently bor­ing journ­al art­icles. Kaj Sand-Jensen, writ­ing in the eco­logy journ­al Oikos, decided to invest­ig­ate this prob­lem and con­cluded his research by provid­ing a set of recom­mend­a­tions for how to write con­sist­ently bor­ing sci­entif­ic art­icles (pdf):

  • Avoid focus
  • Avoid ori­gin­al­ity and per­son­al­ity
  • Write l o n g con­tri­bu­tions
  • Remove most implic­a­tions and every spec­u­la­tion
  • Leave out illus­tra­tions, par­tic­u­larly good ones
  • Omit neces­sary steps of reas­on­ing
  • Use many abbre­vi­ations and tech­nic­al terms
  • Sup­press humor and flowery lan­guage
  • Degrade spe­cies and bio­logy to stat­ist­ic­al ele­ments
  • Quote numer­ous papers for self-evid­ent state­ments

Even though this was ori­gin­ally pub­lished in an eco­logy journ­al, you can­’t fail to see how these recom­mend­a­tions apply to almost every oth­er piece of writ­ten work.

via @Falijn

Focus Points for Entrepreneurs

When someone asked for advice on How to become a mil­lion­aire in 3 years on Hack­er News, seri­al entre­pren­eur Jason Bap­tiste took the task ser­i­ously provid­ing thirty-sev­en things to focus on when start­ing a com­pany, includ­ing:

  • Mar­ket oppor­tun­ity
  • Inequal­ity of inform­a­tion
  • Sur­round your­self with smart people
  • Your primary met­ric should­n’t be dol­lars
  • If you do focus on a dol­lar amount, focus on the first $10,000
  • Get as many dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels as pos­sible
  • Be a mas­ter of inform­a­tion
  • Be so good they can­’t ignore you
  • Give your­self every oppor­tun­ity you can
  • Look for the access­ory eco­sys­tem
  • Make the illi­quid, liquid
  • Don’t be emo­tion­al
  • Don’t leave things up to chance
  • Raise rev­en­ue, not fund­ing
  • Don’t get com­fort­able
  • Don’t skimp on the import­ant things
  • Keep the momentum going
  • Listen to (or read the tran­scrip­tions of) every Mix­ergy inter­view you can
  • Learn how to fil­ter

Jason goes into great detail for each item on his list, start­ing his post with the cla­ri­fic­a­tion that these tips are for mak­ing a suc­cess of a busi­ness endeav­our in “a short time frame” (i.e. not spe­cific­ally for mak­ing a mil­lion dol­lars in three years).

Stephen King on Writing Successfully

It took Steph­en King ten minutes to learn how to have a suc­cess­ful and fin­an­cially reward­ing career writ­ing fic­tion and he believes he can teach us the same in ten minutes, too.

King–author of count­less nov­els and the much-lauded book on the craft, On Writ­ing–starts with a short story of his youth fol­lowed by twelve tips pro­fess­ing to teach us everything we need to know about writ­ing suc­cess­fully:

  1. Be tal­en­ted: If you’re not tal­en­ted, you won’t suc­ceed. And if you’re not suc­ceed­ing, you should know when to quit. When is that? I don’t know. It’s dif­fer­ent for each writer. Not after six rejec­tion slips, cer­tainly, nor after sixty. But after six hun­dred? Maybe. After six thou­sand? My friend, after six thou­sand pinks, it’s time you tried paint­ing or com­puter pro­gram­ming.
  2. Be neat
  3. Be self-crit­ic­al
  4. Remove every extraneous word
  5. Nev­er look at a ref­er­ence book while doing a first draft: Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaur­us is the wrong word.
  6. Know the mar­kets
  7. Write to enter­tain: If you want to preach, get a soap­box.
  8. Ask your­self fre­quently, “Am I hav­ing fun?”: The answer need­n’t always be yes. But if it’s always no, it’s time for a new pro­ject or a new career.
  9. How to eval­u­ate cri­ti­cism
  10. Observe all rules for prop­er sub­mis­sion
  11. An agent? For­get it. For now
  12. If it’s bad, kill it: When it comes to people, mercy killing is against the law. When it comes to fic­tion, it is the law.

That story King shares ends with an anec­dote related dir­ectly to tip four:

Until that day in John Gould’s little office, I had been writ­ing first drafts of stor­ies which might run 2,500 words. The second drafts were apt to run 3,300 words. Fol­low­ing that day, my 2,500-word first drafts became 2,200-word second drafts. And two years after that, I sold the first one.

User Experience Design Tips

Inspired by Mat­thew Fre­d­er­ick­’s enlight­en­ing book 101 Things I Learned in Archi­tec­ture School, Shane Mor­ris and Matt Morph­ett star­ted 101 Things I Learned in Inter­ac­tion Design School.

After a prom­ising start the site hal­ted pre­ma­turely with a measly nine­teen entries to it’s name. Those that do exist are not all fant­ast­ic, but there are some gems that are worth a browse, includ­ing:

I wait in hope of a reviv­al.

via @zambonini

Nine Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Longevity

By study­ing the world’s Blue Zones–“com­munit­ies whose eld­ers live with vim and vig­or to record-set­ting age”–Dan Buettner and team dis­covered a set of com­mon beha­vi­our­al traits in their sub­jects.

In his TEDxTC talk Buettner dis­cusses what he dis­covered to be the myths of liv­ing longer and the nine com­mon diet and life­style habits of those who live to be act­ive at 100+:

  • Exer­cise Nat­ur­ally: They don’t con­sciously exer­cise – rather, daily phys­ic­al exer­cise was a nat­ur­al part of their lives (walk­ing, using stairs, cyc­ling for trans­port, etc.).
  • Down­shift: They live a simple life.
  • Have a Pur­pose: Know­ing and act­ing with pur­pose and hav­ing a high­er goal leads to around a sev­en year increase in life expect­ancy.
  • Mod­er­ate Alco­hol Intake: I’ve dis­cussed this at length before.
  • Plant-Based Diet: Not a veget­ari­an diet, but a largely plant-based one.
  • No Over­eat­ing: They avoid over­eat­ing, typ­ic­ally by using ‘nudges’.
  • Friends and Fam­ily First: They typ­ic­ally think of their close friends and fam­ily first.
  • Belong to a Faith-Based Com­munity: Belong­ing to a faith-based com­munity, and meet­ing on aver­age four times a month, can add four to four­teen years to one’s life. Does this exclude athe­ists? I don’t see why a human­ist com­munity that meets the same rules (meet­ing reg­u­larly) would be dif­fer­ent.
  • Belong to the Right ‘Tribe’: They sur­round them­selves with the ‘right’ people. By doing so they pre­vent get­ting bad habits through social net­work effects (also dis­cussed pre­vi­ously).

via Dav­id DiS­alvo