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This day’s portion

How to write a factually dubious but potent blog post

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I’m referring to this article about… well, what exactly it’s about I’m not sure, but it’s a superlative 167 words.

9 killer techniques in 167 words (91 fewer than I could manage talking about it):

  • Contentious title and opening. Your first reaction when you read it? Probably Never!
  • Short, active sentences and paragraphs.
  • Reference to powerful, controversial brand names (the library world both admires and fears Amazon and Google).
  • Judicious use of ‘we’.
  • Facts and figures (£1000 million).
  • A triple (politicians, council officers and library professionals).
  • Emotive language (lunacy, deserves to be shut down).
  • A counter example (America).
  • A call to action (we should stop it).

Unsurprisingly, several people commented.

But read it again, and a few gaps appear:

  • Legal tax evasion is an oxymoron that comes from the writer’s attempt to resolve several contradictory ideas. Should Google and Amazon be allowed to dodge tax – not that they did dodge tax, of course – in order to save taxpayers money?
  • The America example is intriguing but not outlined in any detail at all.
  • In the same vein, how has Google provided a better information service? One sentence would do.
  • Churches weren’t built for meeting in; they were built for praying in. It’s a bad example but not surprising because there simply isn’t another space that fulfils the same civic function as a library.

I love this style of writing, and it sharpens up your thinking even if you don’t agree with the opinion it expresses. But just a little detail would make it less easy to dismiss after a second reading.

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