I was browsing a catalog for education webinars. These were short classes for professors who could bone up on the latest teaching method. The classes seemed mildly interesting, although the topics were broad and diffuse.But what really stuck out were the seminar titles. Or, more specifically, the inflated length of titles. Each webinar title was about three lines long, and it had a colon in between phrases.
If one phrase is good, two phrases must be twice as good. Suppose that you were teaching a seminar on soil engineering. It would be ineffective to use the title:
A better, more attention-getting approach would be a title like:
“In-situ Material of the Earth: Evaluating the Boundless Uncertainty of Nature’s Subgrade Strata”
If two phrases are twice as good, then three phrases should be three times as good as one phrase, or 50% better than two phrases.
“In-situ Material of the Earth: Evaluating the Boundless Uncertainty of Nature’s Subgrade Strata: Sign Up Now and Receive a Pizza”
The overall trend seems to be like the one influencing razor blades. In the past, a razor had only one blade. Then the marketing department determined that it would be more appealing to have two blades. Conceptually, then we men could get a smoother shave and avoid sticking toilet paper bits on our faces.
Unfortunately, a razor blade arms race was initiated. Razors are up to five blades, and within a few years your razor will look like this:
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I point out that the titles of my essay books are similarly afflicted with multiple phrases. But I am going to throw my otherwise excellent editors under the bus: I wanted simple one phrase (or even one word) titles, but they insisted on additional phrases. No one would buy the books otherwise.)