I’ve had a few conversations recently on the theme of ‘where art and science meet’. One of these areas, newly opened to my English graduate eyes, is Search Engine Optimisation. I was hired by Distilled as, in part, a ‘creative writer’ and have seen over the last few weeks just how essential a good command of language is for this role. For one thing, you’re always writing. Blog entries, comments, relevant content and compelling linkbait all require good writing if they are to be successful in their various aims.
However, the most important word in that particular part of the job description is ‘creative’. The Internet is so huge (and the pitfalls of duplicate content are so unappealing) that it’s a continual challenge to come up with not just interesting, but wholly original content. But that’s why so many of you guys love your job isn’t it? How do you make blenders interesting? Famously, you chuck an iphone in and await the spectacular results (no writing there, I’ll admit). The idea, as they say, is king.
So what’s my point? For too long have the subjects of art and science been separated. I often guiltily talk about my ‘inner geek’ finding solace in the various technological aspects of life- a remote control helicopter here, a download of Bridge Builder there. It goes without saying that all this exists alongside a deep and genuine love of what we in the business like to call literature. I won’t do any name dropping; safe to say 19th Century novelists rock my world. Roald Dahl wrote a fabulous short story about a machine that was able to churn out bestsellers at a rate of knots by algorithmically including a few stereotypical plot devices: a handsome hero and dainty damsel, an evil presence and a final twist. Not perfect, but a start at least. Science is artistic, and art is scientific. It’s a beautiful thing.
So why should my inner geek still be an inner geek? I love Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams ok? I also love some of the best (and, I’ll admit it, worst- any other Sparhawk fans out there?) science fiction/fantasy of the last century or so. Why do I still refuse to mainstream my geek status?
Talking to my boss about this was interesting: he argued that the need for so much well written content on the web has created a haven for the English graduate with no distinct career vocation. In my case, I never went quite so far as to tearfully say, ‘I just LOVE words’, but I always knew I wanted to do something that involved a lot of writing. So this really is my perfect job. I get to be creative and I get to write stuff. Ok, yes, you can find that job elsewhere, but where (where I ask you!) can you do all this and also make Discworld references without feeling like a social outcast?!
In the words of the great Mr Pratchett himself:
The world is made up of four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This is a fact well known even to Corporal Nobbs. It’s also wrong. There’s a fifth element, and generally it’s called Surprise.
So, for god’s sake, let’s get surprising!