Stephen Hawking Biography Review
A review of Kristine Larsen's Stephen Hawking: A Biography.
The Stephen Hawking biography is slightly different than most in that
this particular book has been written about the eminent physicist by
another physicist. Stephen Hawking is seen as one of the greatest
scientific minds of all time and he still manages to produce amazing
theories despite suffering from a neuro muscular disease that has left
him almost completely paralyzed. The book lets you see how he has dealt
with the progression of this illness through his life.
A lot of what he has done in his work is far beyond the capabilities of
most people to understand which is why it is good that they are explained
in easy to follow language. It can really let you see just why he is
viewed as being so important and by looking at his work and his life you
can find a new appreciation for what he has managed to achieve.
It would be easy for a fellow physicist to just write a book that
basically idolizes the man but this is avoided by the author. Instead it
is written from a far more general point of view and it is not just a
book selling him to you as one of the greatest minds in the world. The
book flows quite well and covers his life without placing the importance
on one area in particular. It details his personal troubles with his
marriages, his problems at university before the disease started to take
control of his body, and also how he deals with it on a day to day basis.
Overall the Stephen Hawking biography is very well balanced between the
private and the public side of Hawking's life. It can let you see him in
a different light rather than just being capable of coming up with
theories that only the most intellectual amongst us shall ever be able to
It is not just a book for those interested in science in general but it
is instead more for those of us interested in people in general. It is
not too heavy a book and I think you will enjoy very much.
Most blogs are personal. Blogging's beginnings are closely associated
with personal sites such as livejournal. Thus, blogs have tended to
center around a single personality, and that person's emphases and
interests. But as more and more people come to understand the power of a
blog for leveraging client interest, that trend is changing. Corporations
in particular now are taking part in the blogging scene, given that in
many cases companies with blogs tend to attract half again as much
traffic as sites without them.
Still, there is a sense of cynicism about corporations in the world. The
greedy advertisers, the soulless profiteers — these images tend to stick
with people even when they aren't necessarily appropriate. Corporate
blogs need to stop catering to this mindset, as well. Blogging is about
communication. It is a dynamic medium. (That's why blogging software
comes with a comments function.) Yet so many corporations just use it as
another type of newsletter or circular, not really taking advantage of
the chance to break out and take advantage of the blogging ethos the way
it was intended. So what are some ways a corporation can make its blog
First, Do No Advertising
Specifically, a blog should avoid the trap of trying to directly market
things. Announcements must be limited to the main site, and
advertisements are for the marketing department. The blog is about
communication with the readers — readers who are tired of constantly
being marketed to. Keep the direct marketing out of the blog.
This isn't to say you must be silent about big projects. If your company
gets a hot new app or is able to offer a really big new consumer service,
it would make no sense to go utterly quiet about it. However, a blog is a
tool for commentary as much as it is a presentation. Provide analysis,
not advertisements. Explain a specific thing you find worthwhile about
the new tool rather than regurgitating promotional materials. Share a
story about last year's corporate retreat and the effect it had. As a
rule of thumb, give your readers something to discuss rather than
something that reads like an announcement.
Stay on Message
Personal blogs can sometimes get away with scattered topics, but a
corporate blog needs to establish some editorial guidelines. People come
to a corporate blog for messages and discussion about the products and
services the corporation is providing. A computer programming blog
shouldn't diverge too far afield, and a blog focusing on luxury
lifestyles should always have content about high-class homes and parties.
This might seem like it clashes with the previous point, but in reality
the two work together quite well. Once you have a message to stay on
topic about, then you can focus on developing a distinct personality
within that message. This is a large part of developing the conversation
with your readers, for a number of reasons.
Let's take our luxury lifestyles blog. We'll assume it has two regular
contributors and one monthly correspondent. The content is very clearly
defined; contributors Allan and Becca must consistently talk about fine
living from the perspective of luxury homes, and the correspondent covers
social events. Within these guidelines, however, is room aplenty for
specialization. Allan might have a passion for kitchen design and the
ways it can make fine living so enjoyable, while Becca could have an
abiding interest in architectural layout and the way it affects people's
quality of life. The social events writer probably has a passion as well,
like a desire to focus on parties more than fundraisers. These areas of
specialty allow them to let their own personalities shine through while
still adhering to the editorial mandate of the blog.
Prepare to Talk
As mentioned repeatedly, blogging is about eliciting commentary, and this
will include comments of every stripe. You'll receive enthusiastic
praise, well-reasoned criticism, insightful asides and more than your
fair share of trolls, spam bots and the like.
This is why it is important to make an actual policy for comments that
will be published on your blog. Having a policy in place ahead of time is
a good way to avoid the criticisms and missteps that often plague
bloggers unused to the, shall we say, frank commentary that the web can
The best default is toward free speech. Allow people to comment mostly
freely, within some clearly defined guidelines. Patent "trolling," such
as posts that say genuinely hateful or bigoted things or are intended
simply to start an argument can be safely moderated away. However, allow
people to post disagreements and disputes, and make it a point to respond
directly to these. In fact, give disputes higher priority for comment,
since responding to your detractors politely and clearly can give you a
measure of credibility that simply sharing information with your admirers
will not. That said, do not neglect your fan base either — show them you
care about their interests by responding to their thoughts, as well.
Some Final Thoughts
Blogging is not a science — it is much more of an art. Sometimes it
works, sometimes it does not, and all too often it goes off into strange
places we weren't prepared for. Give some thought to this, and accept
that a little oddness is the price of working on the web. Be willing to
relax and let your personality shine through, and you should be fine.