[Air-L] on writing real good

Barry Wellman wellman at chass.utoronto.ca
Wed Jan 6 15:35:27 PST 2010


(have you ever noticed that US sportscasters have killed adverbs?)

Thanks to Matthew and Jordan for taking my writing comments in good humor.
And just to finish this little meme (sic) off, I had a revelation in the
early 1980s about the need to write as clearly as possible. I took a
course from the late Carolyn Mullins. There's a professional field called
"Technical Writing" that emphasizes clear communication. I'm not going to
go into the details, but my first pass on the subject is a paper on
writing for the social sciences that's on my website under "Methods".

My own feeling is that you can usually say what you want to in broadly
understandable terms, but if you can't, then don't dumb it down.

FWIW, I'm writing a Trade Book now (hopefully smart) with Lee Rainie (Pew
Internet head), that I hope many of you will want to read -- when we
eventually finish it for MIT Press.

And FWIW2, my PhD was in Social Relations, a now-defunct program at
Harvard that included Social Anthro, Social/Clinical Psych and Sociology.
Fortunately, I didn't try to copy Talcott Parsons' writing style, but my
mentor, Chuck Tilly.

Happy New Year to all,

 Barry Wellman
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