“Writers, remember: the more we play the algorithmic game, the more the algorithmic game plays us.”

“Writers, remember: the more we play the algorithmic game, the more the algorithmic game plays us.”

James Shelley notes that most articles today are written for algorithms — search engine and social media optimization. The goal of that writing is to maximize search engine placement and get a lot of “likes.”

It’s fine to use algorithms like that, he says. But we need to do it consciously, and be aware of how it’s shaping discourse for good or ill.

I say that as writers we need to also be aware…

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We Found That New iOS Developer, By The Way… (Me) | The Cellar Door

We Found That New iOS Developer, By The Way… (Me) | The Cellar DoorScrivener for iOS is coming. This should make many of my writer friends happy. 

As for me, I’m happy with Ulysses. It’s similar to Scrivener, but much, much simpler. And it runs on the Mac, iPad, and (if you’re on the beta) the iPhone. 

I’ll probably take another look at Scrivener when it comes to iOS for real. But I’ve bounced off it a couple of times before. 

And I’m skeptical that Scrivener for iOS is imminent. It’s been imminent for years. 

I’m no fan of hawks. But I respect hawks who personally rush to war, like Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt. At least they’re risking their own lives for their principles.

And I have a deep and special contempt for chickenhawks like George W. Bush, pretty much all of his administration, and Donald Trump – people who talk boldly about fighting and speak contemptuously about people who are reluctant to fight, but who send other people to fight for them.

The way Donald Trump talks about punishing America’s opponents and punching protesters in the face, I demand that he should be a military veteran with a record of brawling. Instead, he got out of Vietnam because of fallen arches or some silly reason like that which clues any reasonable person that Daddy Trump got Donald a deferment.

I have the same kind of contempt for Cruz and Rubio, who are so eager to waterboard people who might be terrorists. (Or, you know, they might not be terrorists too. You never know. Best to waterboard them, just to be sure.)

On the other hand, John McCain is a goddamn war hero. I voted for Obama over McCain, and I’m glad I did, but I respect McCain’s military record.

Last time I posted a rant like this one some Trump fanboy called me a hypocrite because I don’t have the credentials I demand of Trump and his ilk. That’s missing the point by a mile. I’m no hawk or chickenhawk. I’m a big ol’ chicken. Because I’m reluctant to risk my own precious flesh in combat, I’m reluctant to ask others to do so on my behalf.

“Writers, remember: the more we play the algorithmic game, the more the algorithmic game plays us.”

James Shelley notes that most articles today are written for algorithms — search engine and social media optimization. The goal of that writing is to maximize search engine placement and get a lot of “likes.”

It’s fine to use algorithms like that, he says. But we need to do it consciously, and be aware of how it’s shaping discourse for good or ill.

I say that as writers we need to also be aware of how writing for the algorithm affects our careers.

Writing for the algorithm turns your writing into a commodity. Your writing becomes interchangeable with others’. Economically, the people who win commodity markets are the ones with the most capital, and who pay their suppliers the least. As a writer, you are the supplier.

The endgame of writing for the algorithm is turning out blog posts for $10 each for a content farm. You can make a living doing that if you’re very fast, work extremely long hours, and can live very modestly.

The best way to achieve value as a writer is to write for readers and use algorithms as tools for finding those readers. Be prepared to sacrifice algorithms if they don’t work for the readers.

Sometimes you write for yourself and put it out there and hope it finds readers. Some of the most successful writers do just that. Also, some of the biggest failures.

1200px-Babbage_Difference_EngineDifference engine, an early computer, built from a 19th Century design by Charles Babbage. Photo by geni  (GFDL CC-BY-SA)

This morning, the hotel lobby briefly filled with a burst of tap. There’s a dance competition for teen girls here.

Muscle memory is remarkable. I haven’t gotten into a car while I’ve been wearing a long coat for more than 15 years. Yet my hand still knows to reach down and pull my hem away from the closing door, and acts without being told.

How do you beat Donald Trump? You punch him. Over and over.

“He is extremely emotional and volatile and responds to any perceived slight. He knows almost nothing about policy and, like a lot of lazy people, tries to assert he doesn’t need to know. He has little or no support staff that can help compensate for his weaknesses. And most importantly, Trump thinks he is going to win. That’s a huge potential asset to an opponent if Trump starts to feel that his ‘victory’ is in jeopardy.”

Also: Trump has been operating at an advantage in that his opposition is entirely putzes.

Any Republican candidate in the last 35 years could take Trump’s lunch money and make him cry: Reagan, Bush Sr., Dole, Bush Jr. with Rove (but not without), or Romney.

Trump has the advantage of running against a team that’s even bigger losers than he is. Which is saying something.

www.washingtonpost.com