Be secret, and exult

To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing
 
Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, with one
Who were it proved he lies
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors’ eyes;
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.
 
— William Butler Yeats

Perderse y salvarse

Por eso, recuerden cómo era, y pregúntense: ¿era esto lo que yo quería hacer? Si se responden que no, que no están dispuestos, que no les viene en gana, que no tienen paciencia, felicidades: el periodismo es un río múltiple que ofrece muchas corrientes para navegar. Pero si se responden que sí, les tengo malas noticias: si resulta que son buenos, si resulta que lo hacen bien, es probable que tengan, antes o después, uno, alguno, o todos estos síntomas: sentirán pánico de estar faltando a la verdad, de no ser justos, de ser prejuiciosos, de no haber investigado suficiente; tendrán pudor de autoplagiarse y terror de estar plagiando a otro. Odiarán reportear y otras veces odiarán escribir y otras veces odiarán las dos cosas. Sentirán una curiosidad malsana por individuos con los que, en circunstancias normales, no se sentarían a tomar un vaso de agua. A la hora de escribir descubrirán que el cuerpo duele, que los días de encierro se acumulan, que los verbos se retoban, que las frases pierden su ritmo, que el tono se escabulle. Y, al terminar de escribir, se sentirán vacíos, exhaustos, inútiles, torpes, pero se sentirán aliviados. Y entonces, en pos de ese alivio, se dirán: nunca más. Y en los días siguientes, en pos de ese alivio, se repetirán, muy convencidos: nunca más. Y hasta les parecerá un buen propósito.

Pero una noche, en un bar, escucharán una historia extraordinaria.

Y después una mañana, en el desayuno, leerán en el periódico una historia extraordinaria.

Y otro día, en la televisión, verán un documental sobre una historia extraordinaria.

Y sentirán un sobresalto.

Y estarán perdidos.

Y estar perdidos será su salvación.

Qué es el periodismo literario, por Leila Guerriero

Write music

This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium lenght. And sometimes when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable lenght, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals -sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.

-Gary Provost

No neutral editors

One’s expectations of fairness and fullness have transferred from editors and producers and their products to engineers and developers and their products. The trick, this time around, is that these products are designed in such a way to reflect such expectations back to the user: we are persuaded that our feeds are our fault, which minimizes the systems through which they are continuously created. (Don’t blame us! Your feed is made of your choices. Choices you make within a framework that we’ve built!) Neutral editors or publications were always an illusion. They’re people, or made of people! Neutral feeds are an even trickier one. They’re the products of systems. Systems designed by people.

Access Denied, by John Herrman

How long do you want these messages to remain secret?

The longer the key you are trying to generate, the longer this takes. Randy is trying to generate one that is ridiculously long. He has pointed out to Avi, in an encrypted e-mail message, that if every particle of matter in the universe could be used to construct one single cosmic supercomputer, and this computer was put to work trying to break a 4096-bit encryption key, it would take longer than the lifespan of the universe. “Using today’s technology,” Avi shot back, “that is true. But what about quantum computers? And what if new mathematical techniques are developed that can simplify the factoring of large numbers?” “How long do you want these messages to remain secret?” Randy asked, in his last message before leaving San Francisco. “Five years? Ten years? Twenty-five years?”

I want them to remain secret for as long as men are capable of evil.

(…) If you want your secrets to remain secret past the end of your life expectancy, then, in order to choose a key length, you have to be a futurist. You have to anticipate how much faster computers will get during this time. You must also be a student of politics. Because if the entire world were to become a police state obsessed with recovering old secrets, then vast resources might be thrown at the problem of factoring large composite numbers.

— Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson

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