On Dante’s ‘Paradiso’ and How Tolkien Improved His Story

Another week, another dollar. What I'm reading: I finished Dante's Paradiso---at last. The poet ascends the spheres of heaven with his guide Beatrice, meeting figures such as Adam, Thomas Aquinas, St. Peter, Mary, and St. John along the way. I have many thoughts and feelings about it, but one surprising moment was in canto 27, … Continue reading On Dante’s ‘Paradiso’ and How Tolkien Improved His Story

Whether AI Will Replace Writing

"Will Artificial Intelligence Kill College Writing?" asks a professor in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Micah Mattix gives what I think is a thoughtful response: "This is one of the problems with teaching writing exclusively as a tool. Most tools are replaceable. But I don’t think writing—real writing—is in any danger of being replaced by … Continue reading Whether AI Will Replace Writing

Why I Deleted Facebook and Instagram from My Phone

For years I have tried to navigate a healthy relationship with social media, with limited success. Though I deleted Twitter from my phone and silenced my Facebook notifications, I became attached to Instagram and was still checking it (and Facebook) many times a day. That changed a week ago after I listened to a podcast on digital minimalism. The podcast didn't just bring up the usual arguments against social media. It presented an attractive vision of focused living. That combination---damning evidence and the beauty of a more fulfilled life---is what finally pushed me to go on a social media fast.

Do Attractive Documents Work Better?

Design expert Donald Norman has written that when people are anxious, they narrow their thought processes. Conversely when people are happy, they become more creative and imaginative at solving problems. If this is true, it means that one of the best things a technical writer can do is create beautiful content that moves readers to a happier, more adaptive emotional state. Or so I contend.