May 2006 Archives
[Atlas mashup contest]
[ASP.NET "Atlas" March CTP]
[FileHelpers v1.4.0 - An Automatic File Import/Export Framework]
[Dumbest code in production]
[Is there a "user's manual for grownup life" out there somewhere?]
- The better structured a document is, the more readers get out of it
- Making important points up front
- Clear taxonomy of headings, and lots of them
- Writing clearly and succinctly
- No long, unbroken paragraphs or tracts of text.
- Preferring bulleted lists with clear points to paragraphs.
- Use of emphasis in formatting to make important things clear
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Eventually Everett came up with a surprising explanation for the peculiarities of the Piraha idiom. "The language is created by the culture," says the linguist. He explains the core of Piraha culture with a simple formula: "Live here and now." The only thing of importance that is worth communicating to others is what is being experienced at that very moment. "All experience is anchored in the present," says Everett, who believes this carpe-diem culture doesn't allow for abstract thought or complicated connections to the past -- limiting the language accordingly.
Because of their culture's ingrained emphasis on referring only to immediate, personal experiences, the tribesmen do not have words for any abstract concept, from colour to memory and even to numbers. There is no past tense, he says, because everything exists for them in the present. When it can no longer be perceived, it ceases, to all intents, to exist. "In many ways, the Piraha are the ultimate empiricists," Professor Everett says. "They demand evidence for everything."
Life, for the Piraha, is about seizing the moment and taking pleasure here and now. "I suddenly noticed how excited they were whenever planes crossed the sky then disappeared. They just love sitting around watching people coming around the bend in the jungle. Whenever I came into the village then left, they were amazed."