Less Is More? Sometimes It’s Less!

I have been a fan and reader of The Objective since it’s launch in 2020 and enjoy their coverage, interviews, and critiques of the journalism and media industry. Unsurprisingly, I leaped (metaphorically speaking!) at the opportunity to contribute to their organization when it arose.

That opportunity came late last year and is now available for everyone to enjoy/hate on/be ambivalent about!

My article for The Objective is a critique on the old adage of “less is more,” the warning of the dangers of superflous writing a la Marcel Proust but more “meaningless, uncomfortable meandering” than “poetic pretentiousness.”

My critique stems from a book review of “Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More With Less” published last year by the creative trio that founded Politico and Axios. The latter media company prides itself on carrying the “less is more” trope into the digital age.

From my piece:

Smart Brevity is the name the trio gave their company’s version of “less is more.” It’s also the title of their 2022 book, subtitled The Power of Saying More With Less. The trio spends a little over 200 pages explaining what smart brevity is, how it came to be and, more importantly for the purposes of growing their brand, how everyone can utilize it in multiple settings. Apparently, every TED talk, boardroom, classroom, email newsletter, and presentation can benefit from speaking and writing with as few words as possible!

The unexamined problem with brevity in this case is who suffers, and how, when important information is oversimplified. The act of curating information for an audience is also the act of gatekeeping information. The more information is simplified, the more an audience should ask itself what information has been sacrificed for their convenience and why.

Though Marshall McLuhan I am not, there are much juicier quotes in there (I promise!) concerning the oversimplification and gatekeeping of information based on perceived audience expectations and the medium through which it receives that information.

Read my critique/commentary in its entirety here: Smart Brevity: Who suffers when information is oversimplified?

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