The late Benoit Mandelbrot was a true polymath, inspiring new ways of thinking far beyond his own field of mathematics. In an interview conducted a few years ago, he made the following point about communication:
Many scientific articles are completely flat because they are written for people who do not have to be convinced. They are part of a small circle within a well-established domain; they write for each other, know more or less everybody, or are introduced by their thesis supervisors or mentors. As a result, style is a very secondary and unimportant thing for them. In my case, the fact that I write for an unknown public necessarily influences and shapes my style. Whether it is opera or Greek drama, one must know how to enter into a subject quickly because one cannot assume that the public will wait to understand. One has to be able to speak to people in their style, motivate and perhaps amuse the reader a little.
Chris Lehmann is a master at drawing people in. Though caustically titled and serious in intent, his Rich People Things made me laugh every few pages. He’s plied his trade on the RPT blog for about a year, but trust me: buy the book. As he notes in a brutal few pages on the Free-deology of Wired guru Chris Anderson, the web is rapidly moving toward a “feudal model of enterprise, whereby managerial rentiers . . . extract fees far upstream” from actual creators.