Desktop publishing has given way to laptop or smartphone publishing. And Microsoft Word is an atrocious tool for Web writing. Its document-formatting mission means that every piece of text it creates is thickly wrapped in metadata, layer on layer of invisible, unnecessary instructions about how the words should look on paper.
Pentametron, my twitter poetry engine, is now online! An experiment in finding inadvertent art in the internet’s endless outpouring of language, pentametron automatically collects twitter posts that happen to be in iambic pentameter. It processes about five million tweets per day, and finds a few dozen iambic lines in that time.
Terry Gilliam faced a problem in 1985: Although it had been released without a hitch by distributors outside the US, his final cut of Brazil was deemed unfit for release in North America by executives at Universal. Faced with Gilliam’s stern refusal to re-edit his work and craft a more commercial movie as proposed, a team at Universal — headed by Sidney Sheinberg — took on the job themselves and began to reshape the film. In October, with hands tied, Gilliam went public, and responded by way of a very brief open letter to Sheinberg.
Despite never being published in the paper, the following brief letter — sent to the offices of The Times in 1946 by the famously eccentric Lt. Col. Alfred Daniel Wintle — was so adored by staff, it has apparently been preserved ever since. It’s easy to see why.
I spent a while this week looking into how best to automatically hyphenate text on websites, to improve Today’s Guardian. I couldn’t find anything recent that summarised the options, so here’s a quick run-down of what I discovered.
In 1997, when I was first hired at New York magazine, Kurt Andersen, now a best-selling novelist and radio-show host, had just been fired as editor. Everybody was grieving about this, though not me, since I wouldn’t have had a job there otherwise. And though it wasn’t until years later that I even met Kurt, he unwittingly left me a gift: tacked to the bulletin board in the office I took over was a single page titled ‘Words We Don’t Say’. It contained, as you might surmise, words and phrases that Kurt found annoying and didn’t want used in his magazine. Just yesterday, I rescued it from a bunch of old office stuff that I was throwing out, and I have to say, 14 years later, it’s still a pretty useful list of phony-baloney vocabulary that editors are well-advised to excise from stories.
The following note was written by Eric Idle to fellow-Python Graham Chapman in the late-1970s.
Scrivener is a word processor and project management tool created specifically for writers of long texts such as novels and research papers. It won’t try to tell you how to write – it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.