Tag Archives: blogs

Failure is an orphan quote.

Air quotes quotes and orphan quotes around "coffee" and "churros"

If the desire to “go green” leaves you feeling a bit overwhelmed, keep it simple with a “less is more” attitude…

“Go green”? “Less is more”? Why, exactly, are there quotation marks around these phrases (which I found in a newsletter)? Certainly not because they’re quotations.

They’re what my friends Kim and Elizabeth, nimble writers both, call orphan quotes.

Orphan quotes are quotation marks that people habitually use to surround a word or sometimes two. More recently they’ve broken out of the written sphere, becoming air quotes.

I’m very much against them. My hard line on orphan quotes was solidified when I read a pamphlet called “On Punctuation,” which my friend Glenn had given to me.

“Quotation marks should be used honestly and sparingly…” it advised.

Now that I’m able to search for it online, I find that what I thought was a pamphlet actually is a chapter in a book of essays, The Medusa and the Snail, written by Lewis Thomas and published in 1979.

Dr. Thomas’s admonitions have stuck with me through the years:

Above all, quotation marks should not be used for ideas that you’d like to disown… Nor should they be put in place around cliches; if you want to use a cliche you must take full responsibility for it yourself and not try to fob it off on anon. or on society.”

Simply put, people use orphan quotes when they use a cliche or some other form of lazy writing they don’t want to take responsibility for. It’s cowardice.

For a couple years now, my friend Ben has been carrying out a worthy crusade against the misplaced apostrophe. And so I was glad to discover today that the Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks is performing a similar public service by cataloging misused quotation marks.  It’s where I snagged the photo for this entry.

To quote Dr. Thomas: “The most objectionable use of quotation marks … is seen in advertising, especially in advertisements for small restaurants…”  To look at just a few of the blog’s photos amply proves this point.

[ADDITION: And here is the Gallery of “Misused” Quotation Marks.]

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Filed under books, communications, print, reading, Uncategorized, writing

Just tried the new Colgate Wisp. Anyone want a kiss?

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Is Twitter on the way out? I’m asking because I’m still on the fence about it (see my thoughts about cell phones) and this post quoted another post that raised the question.

” ‘Early adopters like a product as long as they are the early adopters for it. Once it reaches that majority status, early adopters start looking for something else to adopt . . . early.’  This is an interesting thought. Is Twitter getting too big? Is it starting to grow too much?” one or both of them wrote.

There’s so much pro and con about Twitter out there. Like here and here. Here. Here. Even here. Here’s a video called “Real Life Twitter.” And here’s a post that argues Twitter has jumped the shark. (And let me point out that the phrase “jumped the shark” itself jumped the shark long before Twitter was invented.)

The people who seem to be abandoning Twitter are the so-called early adopters. They’re the folks who, when you find out about the party and show up early, are there and already sloshed.

Early adopters are the people who dropped their gas lighting service and wired their house for electricity before anyone else. They’re the ones who decided they didn’t have to walk to the next farm to borrow an egg because they could buy a car and get there faster. And after being the first on the street with a telephone, decided there would be some worth in not depending on people calling back, and bought an answering machine so they’d never miss a call.

You see what I’m getting at? There’s still no reason they installed 8-Track players in their cars.

But the deeper questions are: how do you early adopter types see what I don’t see, and what are you seeing right now?

Cindi suggested time travel might be next, but she was joshing. I suppose. I’m curious, what’s the next big thing? What are you the first person doing? What gets you “early adopter” written all over your face?

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Filed under internet

Links are on me.

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Theorists theorize that the internet is a link economy, where the value of information rises as more and more people link to it. And while theorists continue to figure out how to turn that value into money, it has led to a lot of linking and name dropping.

Jill Miller Zimon,   Weebalmom, Stu, Yui N,   Lindy DreyerAri Herzog,   Anok,   akbar khanTracey,   Holly, Joe Duck.

I don’t know any of these people, and they don’t know me. But I’ve just raised their value. And that makes me feel good.

A link economy, and an attention economy. If that’s the case, I’d better stop before I lose your attention.

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Filed under internet