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cupholder comments on Seven Shiny Stories - Less Wrong

104 Post author: Alicorn 01 June 2010 12:43AM

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Comment author: cupholder 01 June 2010 10:43:23PM -1 points [-]

I think that starting posts with the first half of one of these examples and ending with the latter half would help people stay in "chasing mode" and appreciate the information a lot more.

I should mention that this is a useful journalist's gimmick for bookending the meat of an article, but you shouldn't rely on it too heavily; once a reader notices how often it's used, it can be distractingly obvious. (I associate this trick with New Yorker profiles for some reason, even though I don't have any actual examples to hand.)

Comment author: magfrump 02 June 2010 05:53:47AM 2 points [-]

When you say "gimmick for bookending the meat" and "distractingly obvious" and call it a "trick" I feel like you have a set of negative associations with the "gimmick" that I am unfamiliar with.

If you are compiling a list of statistics, or filling a page count, I can see how this kind of thing would seem inappropriate. But as far as I know the point of these articles (and this site in general) is to make information about self-awareness (etc.) accessible to people. If having a section to help people get into chasing mode helps them with that, it seems like a substantial factor in making the information accessible and I would call it part of the "meat."

It occurs to me that you also might mean that it becomes distracting and takes people OUT of chasing mode; I think that readers could either try to resist that habit or just skip over the section if that's the case. This might not work so well in a magazine, but there isn't a print space limit on the internet.

Comment author: cupholder 03 June 2010 01:50:30AM *  2 points [-]

When you say "gimmick for bookending the meat" and "distractingly obvious" and call it a "trick" I feel like you have a set of negative associations with the "gimmick" that I am unfamiliar with.

Yes. It's one of a set of writer's devices that takes me out of the flow of reading a text when I notice it; some ways of structuring a text are familiar enough to me that they make me go 'I see what you did there!' when I spot them. It's like if I'm listening to a pop song for the first time and its rhyme scheme is obvious enough that my brain starts subconsciously guessing the ending of each line of verse before it's actually sung. If I notice that happening, it's distracting.

Still, I should, in retrospect, have phrased my comment more obviously as just my opinion instead of making a generalization.

(Edit - and that all said, I didn't plan to imply by using the word 'trick' that using this device was deceptive. I meant 'trick' in the sense of a convenient, well, gimmick. A trick of the trade.)

Comment author: magfrump 03 June 2010 05:54:19PM 1 point [-]

Okay, I think those last couple of paragraphs explain a lot of what I was missing--I definitely did associate "trick" (and gimmick) with being deceptive.

I do agree that this sort of device can become a bit transparent, although I often associate that with worse writing. I'm curious if there are better ways to help bring people into chasing mode.