On bullet points
In 19721, the first “computer” was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
One of the original uses for “computers” was to write documents. They promised us a novel way to read and write documents: hypermedia. A brilliant, “nonlinear” presentation of information. We could write documents more like a conversation. We could embed references to other media, or take tangents and then return to the main topic, but only if the reader wanted to.
And then every article written on the Internet since then has been in a linear, boring fashion.
We’ve been had.
I have several “notes” documents in Google Docs with ideas for writings that I haven’t fleshed out into proper blog posts. Recently, I took one and asked ChatGPT to make an article out of it. And it did! It successfully inserted enough transition words into the article to resemble a linear, boring article.
Then I realized that the reader then has to ingest all of those useful words and transform them back into bullet points of takeaways in their heads. Hell, maybe you’ll feed this article into a auto-summarization bot and get a list of succinct bullet points out of it.
How incredible! With the power of AI, we’ve come full circle: I can write bullet points, a bot can turn it into an article, then another bot can turn them back into bullet points, and you can quickly skim the bullet points. What a time to be alive.
I’m just going to publish the bullet points directly. And you know what bullet points can do? Represent information succinctly and non-linearly:
- You can skip all those transition words.
- Especially the
adjective ones, which I can delegate to sub-points, if desired.
- Especially the fluffy
- You can skip over sub-points for topics you don't care about.
- Like if I waste your time with this sub-point!
- You can construct a concept map directly in your head by absorbing the bullet point structure.
Before After You'd have to reconstruct it from a block of text. ⇨ I can guide you along my argumentation using the literal structure of the text on the page.
I’ll reserve long-form, boring articles for stories and rants where I don’t want you to consume the information efficiently. Where I’ll insert lots of italics so that you have to read it with my tone of cynicism!
For more information, refer to A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages for the history of the C programming language, for which the first computer was originally created, despite its lack of tail call recursion and concurrency support. ↩