Monday, September 16, 2013

Helping Dr Ada

I first came to know Dr Ada a decade ago when an unfortunate timetable clash left her first year course on runic studies vying for attendees with my own series of lectures, Professor Mise's Introduction to Pure Mathematics. Attracted by my charm, reputation, and pedagogical skills, 354 of the young First Arts Students chose to attend my lectures. Five students signed up for Dr Ada's course, no doubt lured by her charm, reputation, and pedagogical skills.

An inevitable, one-sided coolness developed between us despite my frequent macaron gifts to her (I was ever the peacemaker!), and we had quite lost touch until her personal assistant contacted me this summer with the surprising news that Dr Ada had resigned her post and set up her own blog. She was hoping for some hints and tips for this, her new venture.

Dr Ada's Guide to Leaving Academia

Who better qualified to help than myself, I reflected immediately. By then, I could boast as many as seven regular readers, I had self-published extensively on blogging mores, Yvonne from Yvestown had once commented on a post of mine, and my blog statistics had led me to suspect that one of my subscribers was from New York. New York!

"Certainly, my dear," I told Dr Ada's assistant, and promptly forgot about the matter until Dr Ada herself called to my house recently on her motorcycle tour of Ireland.

It is difficult to let someone down when they have apologised so abjectly for their clumsy fall into your marigolds, and so, once Dr Ada had left, marigold petals still in her hair, I set to ponder how I might help her improve her blogging technique.

The first thing that sprang to mind was that her posts contained no images. Compare that with this present post, which I have illustrated with a photograph of Dr Ada's blog, depicted in my own celebrity kitchen.  Yes, the photograph is a tad out of focus and the laptop screen is crudely cropped to conceal my real name, yet the image serves to break the monotony of the paragraphs of text.

The chosen illustration need not necessarily be of a laptop in one's celebrity kitchen. A large, vintage copper pan, proposed tiles for the swimming pool, two candidate sequined scarves for wearing to the launch soirĂ©e: any old thing will do. Whatever is to hand.  

Note, however, that one cannot be entirely cavalier in the choice of image. When Dr Ada states,
The sidecar held up well: its occupant complained only once, when I took a series of spectacular hairpin bends con brio (as the advanced driving qualification demands)
the reader would expect to see a series of stills from the police speed camera.

The other major piece of advice for Dr Ada is, of course, that blog posts should be brief.  This will present a challenge to someone who is used to producing wordy, banal papers in the area of heiroglyphological research, but Dr Ada must bear in mind that her typical reader will simultaneously be skimming five other blogs, making a pudding that includes agar agar, eating buttered toast, and keeping ducks.

Again, taking the present instance as a case in point, there is no chance at all, its lucid eloquence notwithstanding, that any reader would ever reach the end of my post.      

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