Friday, December 06, 2019

Should Snoopy be your editor?

There is a Peanuts comic series in which Snoopy is working on a novel, and Lucy volunteers to draw a cover for it. Snoopy makes very specific demands, and Lucy returns with the finished product:
Lucy (handing the work product up to Snoopy on dog house): I've finished the drawing for the  cover of your new novel.

Lucy (as Snoopy examines): See? It shows a bunch of pirates and Foreign Legionnaires fighting some tigers and elephants leaping through the air toward a girl who is tied to a submarine.

 Linus (addressing Lucy as she walks away staring at her drawing): Did he like your drawing?

 Lucy: It needs more tigers. 
It needs more tigers. This often comes to mind when I am on the receiving or giving end of editorial input.

A web page highlighting a law firm's accomplishments for the year needs more case summaries?
It needs more tigers.

A piece warning business policyholders of the ever-growing and -morphing risks posed by cyber crime? It needs more tigers.

An article spotlighting the likely ill effects of a Trump executive order on healthcare policy?
It needs more tigers.

I recall a Marxist history professor fondly relating that this was the usual upshot of Marx's response to writings by Engels (quoting German, not Peanuts).

Also, the tigers need to be up front -- first thing you see.

The pressure to get the tigers out there quick and keep them coming is Darwinian, and not entirely a bad thing. But we're getting to the point where that competitive pressure, heightened and distorted by malign influences,  may sink our information economy in a morass of disinformation.

P.S. You can find the comic by googling "Snoopy "it needs more tigers."

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