Friday, July 16, 2004

Heuristics only take you so far

I've been at home nursing a fever the past three days, and apart from feeling sorry for myself, and watching the Peter Weir adaptation of Patrick O'Brien's "Master & Commander" (great Boys' Own stuff, and very good when you're down in the dumps), I've started reading "The World of Christopher Marlowe". The great thing about this book so far is that it puts Marlowe's writing into a very clear socio-historical context, including the virtues of a Cambridge education.

What interested me was the emphasis on heuristics for oratory and rhetoric: which reminded me very much of the advice drummed into me by a French lecteur at college - argument, counter-argument, synthesis and conclusion. Having a wayward mind, I found such linguistic corsetry a little frustrating at University, and I've always been of the opinion that rule-based learning only takes you so far. I think this lesson stretches into the world of the Web, and was summed up very nicely on Christina's Elegant Hack site with a posting on "Good Gut", where experience was highlighted over heuristics, heuristics are not enough...    

NB: not sure that I like the new HTML editor on Blogger - wasn't the previous instance sufficient without giving us all the virtues of a WYSIWYG editor? Did I really need to add colour to this post? I liked being able to add HTML in directly without an "edit HTML" option.

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