Tools are great. Talent and dedication? Better.

January 9, 2008

Many academics are pure geeks when it comes to software and gadgets. But tools exist solely to let your ideas shine.

As evidence, consider this little number, the first song on what is frequently called “The Greatest Rock Album of All Time”. It was recorded, in it’s entirety, on a 4 track tape machine. Which means that a song, no matter how complex, ultimately had to be recorded in no more than 4 takes. Modern recording studios now have an infinite number of tracks at their disposal. But, arguably, nothing has bested Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, recorded, by way of computer analogy, on a Kaypro.

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Because it just don’t get better than the way it once was.


On leaving MS Word for cleaner pastures

January 9, 2008

My mini-rant against Microsoft Word prompted reader Sasha to suggest looking into Scrivener. Now wouldn’t you know it, Virginia Heffernen has a nice article on cheesey little website about her move away from the Redmond empire.  It links to a nice essay by Steven Poole on the same topic.

The upshot of both: the process of creative, synthetic writing is largely divorced from the process of formatting mass-produced documents. Our job as academic scientists is not to write memos, but manuscripts. Why not find software that gently removes the distractions, and lets you, and your words, flow?  Read the rest of this entry »


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