Sunday 6 January 2013
Non-science matters also
About 18 months ago, I was listening to Sunday Miscellany, a magazine (essays/poems intercalated with music) programme on RTE Radio 1 and thought "I could do one of those". In the 90s of the last century, I used to write book reviews for an on-line newsletter called EMBnet News and eventually was appointed Book Review Editor for new journal called Briefings in Bioinformatics. I tried to summarise each book in 500-1000 words, point out the more outrageous typos and give an opinion about whether it was worth buying, borrowing or stealing. I also tried to add 'a little bit more': a comment, a digression or synthesis that gave the review some substance in itself rather than just being a wart (visible, annoying but not usually metastatic) on the face of the book itself. You can google up those early efforts to see if they have anything to say 15-20 years later. So the preferred length for SundayMisc (700 words = 5ish minutes of talking time on air) was comfortable. It's hardly long-form journalism - a genre for which I have a grá - but it's more than a soundbyte. Longer than most articles in the Irish Times aNNyway. I promised myself that I would write a SundayMisc essay each month for a year and I kept going for slightly longer than that, despite the fact that not one was accepted for broadcast. They were all politely acknowledged by what I took to be a robot until one time I forgot to attach the essay and "The Robot", a nice woman with a very Irish superfluity of consonants called Cliodhna, pointed out the error. So that's the background for the next posting.