Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Citation form as a social norm

Ray Ward of the (new) legal writer posted a wise blog entry here. He says he will try to pursue excellence in his writing without overemphasizing the trivial. I agree with him.

He cited my post on the "tyranny of the inconsequential"--my term for the trivial aspects of citation form: spaces, abbreviations, commas. They don't matter much--in reality--but people will judge you by them.

I just re-read a comment on that post by Ian. He brought a more sophisticated view to the issue:
Sadly, cite form is an esoteric code of social norms and signifiers. For better or worse, it has much to do with notions of sophistication and professional hierarchy.
True and well put. I guess this is, at bottom, what I was getting at in writing about the tyranny of the inconsequential. I'm just not that smart.

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