Books vs blog posts.

Blog posts are short. Much can be forgiven. But you can’t just write that way, longer. Like book long.

Books usually need:
– an argument. Alone (blogger in underwear), you typically cannot construct one. Online community might be able to help but offline academics have something good. The fifty comments on a blog/git are a fraction of the intense debate and contest an academic writer has to traverse (students, talks, citations of great thinkers, editors and committees).
– citations. This is evidence you have engaged with at least the established sets of ideas. “Epic content” style blog posts do link a lot. Books do this a lot more – they link to other book-length treatments.
– a big story. The hero sets out to fix a problem through ideas… (A. World is on fire. B. The secret mechanism why. C. The road ahead.)
– small stories. The little anecdotes that move 3-page blocks.
– characters. Hero, villain, angel, etc. You have to identify or contest with someone to care.
– feeling. Stories need feeling and characters elicit it – but don’t forget that the personal investment is because the reason cares about something.
– how about some jokes?
– pictures or charts?
– avoid equations
– lists are nice
– summaries too
– STYLE. How do you write? How does it make people feel? Write! Earn it!

I used to work in philosophy and many of the writers aspired to a naturalist type of writing, like a science paper. No style.

But the most famous papers all have stories and characters — Twin Earth, the trolley, zombies, the enlightened monarch, malevolent demons, the veil of ignorance, brain in a vat, the honest judge and the mob outside, the Superhuman Intellect, the Superman.

// Amol Sarva, Ph.D. // @amol // 530-727-8277
// Blog // Knotable