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Why don’t we actually read anymore?

“This kind of reading suggests that behind it lies a different kind of thinking. And unfortunately this may weaken our capacity to develop a deep kind of reading. According to Maryanne Wolf, development psychologist at Tufts University, we have become ‘mere decoders of information’. Our ability to interpret text, to make rich mental connections that are formed when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged. But actually we are dealing with a problem here that we have to cope with because our ancestors, like Plato, believed that writing and reading was a good thing.” (Denise PiresDancing Uphill)

25 tips for writing the user experience

“While this article tends toward copywriting for the user experience as it pertains to the online world, you can apply it to other aspects of your brand as well. The most important point being to take the user, aka the person, reading what you’re writing into account from the get-go. Communicate for them first and foremost.” (Karen Goldfarb)

50 Free Resources That Will Improve Your Writing Skills

“Effective writing skills are to a writer what petrol is to a car. Like the petrol and car relationship, without solid skills writers cannot move ahead. These skills don’t come overnight, and they require patience and determination. You have to work smart and hard to acquire them. Only with experience, you can enter the realm of effective, always-in-demand writers.” (Smashing Magazine) – courtesy of khalvorson

How to Generate Reader Interest in What You Write

“Who has not discovered to their dismay that no one wants to read their most carefully crafted, meritorious, compelling, and passionate writings? Think of all the proposals you have written that no one is interested in. Or the web pages, the blog posts, or the company brochures. Chances are, your failures are linked to an inability to connect with what your readers would be interested in reading.” (Phil Yaffe – ACM Ubiquity)

Online language pathways: understanding how brands need to communicate with their customers online

“Our study found that language that engages people on web pages is not the same as the language that forms the pathways to a site. Rather, people change or adapt language terms as they refine their search from their original language of intent (their thoughts) to terms and phrases that more closely mirror language they see in their search, coupled with a mechanical style they think will be better understood by search engines. But the language they appear to respond to most favourably when they finally engage with a website is language that more closely resembles their original language of intent – less mechanical, more natural and human. The ‘translation’ from human language into online language seems to be a sub-conscious and iterative or fluid process: people refine or filter their language as their online journey progresses and this is particularly evident during the search journey.” – (Content Delivery & Analysis)

In Defense of Readers

“Despite the ubiquity of reading on the web, readers remain a neglected audience. Much of our talk about web design revolves around a sense of movement: users are thought to be finding, searching, skimming, looking. We measure how frequently they click but not how long they stay on the page. We concern ourselves with their travel and participation – how they move from page to page, who they talk to when they get there—but forget the needs of those whose purpose is to be still. Readers flourish when they have space – some distance from the hubbub of the crowds – and as web designers, there is yet much we can do to help them carve out that space.” – (Mandy BrownA List Apart)

Wordlings in a Web 2.0 World

“Public language has become impoverished by ‘managerialism’ which frequently reduces language to strings of ‘weasel’ words, a phenomenon blamed on the information society. This process is not as ubiquitous or as inevitable as often represented, however. Drawing on Burke’s notion of human beings as ‘wordlings’, I argue for the centrality of well–crafted words, especially on the Internet, and offer examples of language crafted with care and passion, leading to distilled and vivid expression. I use the term ‘word bytes’ for such language, as it can cut through the multiple items of information from many other media with which it is surrounded, and demand to be noticed and remembered. I conclude we do not have to accept the impoverished form of ‘managerial’ English, often produced by elites and used to justify the ‘financialization’ of the late capitalist world. We can begin to counter it by our own practices of using words with care and passion, and by disseminating our words. We can also stop and question ‘weasel’ language wherever we encounter it.” – (Carolyne Lee – First Monday 14.2)

How Crafty Word Order Can Instantly Improve Your Writing

“Written communication has increased with email, instant messaging, blogs, wikis, and numerous other Internet services. As readers we struggle constantly to understand these communications despite enormous pressures on our time and attention. Phil Yaffe has been offering Ubiquity readers simple principles that have helped make these written communications significantly more effective. A while ago he told us about ten general principles, more recently about three acid tests, and now a single principle for good sentences.” – (Philip Yaffe – ACM Ubiquity)

The Discipline of Content Strategy

“We, the people who make websites, have been talking for fifteen years about user experience, information architecture, content management systems, coding, metadata, visual design, user research, and all the other disciplines that facilitate our users’ abilities to find and consume content. Weirdly, though, we haven’t been talking about the meat of the matter. We haven’t been talking about the content itself.” (Kristina HalvorsonA List Apart)

Ten Recipes for Persuasive Content

“In many of my columns, I have touted the importance of persuasive, or influential, content and shared relevant theories and arguments, sprinkling in some practical tips and examples along the way. This column brings together a collection of practical tips, or recipes, for persuasive content. My goal for these recipes is to help anyone who touches content to bake in some influential goodness. Because of my background and experience, these recipes have an English-speaking American flavor, but I think they are a useful starting point for international content, as well.” (Colleen JonesUXmatters)

Turn Usable Content into Winning Content

“Findable. Scannable. Readable. Concise. Layered. We know much these days about how to make Web content usable—thanks to experts such as Robert Horn, Jakob Nielsen, Ginny Redish, and Gerry McGovern. What we don’t understand as well, however, is how to make content win users over to take the actions we want them to take or have the perceptions we want them to have. We don’t understand how to make Web content both usable and persuasive. I, by no means, intend to imply that we should sacrifice the usability of content to make it more persuasive. Truly winning content must be both.” (Colleen JonesUXmatters)

Magic Words: How Language Augments Human Computation

“Public language is a cognition-enhancing tool — it is a species of external artifact whose current adaptive value is partially constituted by its role in re-shaping the kinds of computational space that our biological brains must negotiate in order to solve certain types of problems, or to carry out certain complex projects. This computational role of language has been somewhat neglected (not un-noticed, but not rigorously pursued either) in recent cognitive science, due perhaps to a (quite proper) fascination with and concentration upon, that other obvious dimension: the role of language as an instrument of interpersonal communication. In this chapter, I try to display the broad shape of the alternative orientation. I discuss the views of some recent (and not-so-recent) authors, who recognize in various ways, the potential role of language and text in transforming, reshaping and simplifying the computational tasks that confront the biological brain. I then pursue this idea through a series of examples involving planning, concept learning, the construction of complex thoughts and the capacity to refelect on our own cognitive profiles.” (Andy Clark)