Think of this book as a field guide, not style guide: which berries or mushrooms to pick.
Think atoms of style, not elements.
Think tools, not rules.
Prescriptive rules are among the least interesting things about language.
When we write now, machines read it first.
When we write, we design words both for humans and the web.
When we write, it’s often to make small observations about daily life, not to develop extended arguments or narratives.
When we write now, we are judged, collectively, by peers.
In short, short messages are no sign of a mass onset of attention deficit disorder or cultural decline. It’s methaphorical economics.
Human attention is the scarce resource we compete for.
We scan, skim, screen and click around – until we notice something worthwhile.
The new way of reading isn’t lazy or unfocused, it’s guarded.
The new way of writing is not to be evaluated by authorities, like it used to be, but to communicate, to entertain, to persuade, to get attention.
We are seekers of others’ attention, not just guardians of our own.
So, how do you pack a lot of meaning into a little message?
We think – wrongly – of words as containers for meaning.
A message is no treasure chest full of meaning.
‘It is cold in here’ = ‘close the window’
Context makes meaning happen.
I guess Christopher Johnson means, we read between and beyond the lines.