Cybersecurity for non-nerds

MOST OF US GET HACKED all the time, although we don’t know it. Long gone are the archaic viruses that would cause glitches on the monitor, noticeably slow down your computer, or trigger a prank.

Chiseling words: Writing as sculpture

OUR WORLD IS BURSTING at the seams with ever more text. Good writing provides relief from this inflationary pressure: Like a sculpture, a strong text will surface thanks to a subtractive process, as its author chips away at surplus material, cutting things down to their core.

Words small and strong

BUILD YOUR TEXT with short rather than long words; it will pack all the more punch. Long words take time to read, because our minds can only process small amounts of data at once. If you bundle thorny words next to each other, you will turn your text into a thicket and reading into a…

Illustrations for the penniless

ILLUSTRATIONS ARE ESSENTIAL to digital content. Just imagine, for example, a webpage that is merely a wall of text. Regardless of how pertinent it may be for its intended public, it would be dead on arrival. To spruce up their publications, many companies thus hire photographers and graphic artists, subcontract artwork, and subscribe to stock…

Emails out of the blue

HOW DO WE CONNECT with strangers on a professional level, whether for fieldwork purposes, fundraising, promoting publications or organizing events? Unless we can actually meet in person, our first point of contact will most often be email. Indeed, cold calling tends to be disruptive and intimidating, while reaching out via social media is generally too…

The meaning of mentoring

LUCKY ARE THOSE who find the right mentor: There is much we cannot accomplish, in our lives or careers, in the absence of that rare and enriching encounter. But to build the right mentoring relationship, we must know what to aim for. Most importantly, a mentor must help the mentee find their own way in a learning…

Social media copy

THERE IS MORE to posts and tweets than the art of self-promotion. Social media provides a degree of public feedback that simply does not exist in other fields of intellectual output. While often addictive and disruptive, this can also be constructive—allowing us to experiment and obtain instantaneous returns with only moderate effort. Social media, in…

Bringing quotations to life

A RICH AND VIVID TEXT likely will include voices other than your own. When you share analysis or tell a story, you almost inevitably draw on characters from your readings, fieldwork, or life experience, whom you will paraphrase or directly cite. In writing, these interjections often appear between quotation marks, which prompt the reader to…

Paragraphs in progression

A READABLE TEXT flows through a sequence of paragraphs, each of which serves a distinctive function. While experienced writers tend to build that succession instinctively, even the best can benefit from slowing down and identifying precisely what effects they are trying to achieve at each step. Knowing a paragraph’s intended function will help focus its…

What is analysis?

ANALYSIS IS AN ODDLY VAGUE CONCEPT, given how central it is to our lives. There are many ordinary things we could not do without it. It would be dangerous to drive or cross the street without analysing the tangle of moving objects, road signs and weather conditions that inform our movements.

Wrestling with Egypt

THE ARAB UPRISINGS, for all the ensuing violence, have left a legacy of bold and creative media ventures. Without them, the Middle East’s public space would be shaped in the image of failed regimes, whose answer to growing socioeconomic needs is mostly limited to repression and propaganda. In Egypt, the independent digital daily Mada Masr…

The shape of a text

EDITORS ARE FREQUENTLY HAUNTED by shapeless texts. You would be surprised at how many documents are submitted with random titles, weird spacing between sentences and paragraphs, Haphazard Capitalization, sloppy punctuation; loose speling, allusive references to things, ‘fanciful quotations », or slashes that save the author from choosing the right word/concept.