Write Like [Your Suggestion Here]
August 13, 2020 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Each weekday morning, I share the day's data with a small group of witty and literary-minded colleagues on Slack. Previously, such posts included standard intros ("data for today is:"). This week, I made one of the intros a faux-Bible verse ("Then came the presenter of the data unto them, saying:") and phrased one in telegram-ese (STOP SEE CHART STOP). Great success! What other distinctive writing styles can I use?

The intro is only a sentence or two, so whatever the style is, it needs to be quickly recognizable.

On the list so far: short poetry forms (limerick, haiku), Hemingway, e.e. cummings, Dr. Seuss.
posted by picopebbles to Writing & Language (41 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Old English
morse code
Vintage noir narration
old timey-mobster "listen here, see"
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

IN WHICH our data are presented; illustrative charts expeditiously delivered; &c
posted by trig at 8:57 AM on August 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Homeric epic. (Formulaic adjective-noun combinations like "rosy-fingered dawn," "wine-dark sea" and "swift-footed Achilles" can be made especially humorous by having them clash with the current context. You could invent one that pokes fun at yourself with an adjective that does not describe you at all.

Possibly, old fashioned corny romance/soft porn. Hardy Boys type stuff avoiding the word "said." i.e. "Gee whiz!" he ejaculated." I wouldn't care to see this in the workplace though, and not anywhere at all if it appears sexist or cis/heteronormative.
posted by BibiRose at 8:58 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

(not a literary style, but maybe in the spirit of things)
posted by trig at 9:00 AM on August 13, 2020

I've used the "Greetings, Earthlings" alien voice to amusing effect before.

Depending on your audience, pseudo-code could be fun.

If you're really feeling ambitious, you could "rap".
posted by kevinbelt at 9:02 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Building on the Hardy Boys suggestions: there's Tom Swifties, she added immediately.
posted by trig at 9:04 AM on August 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

If you're really feeling ambitious, you could "rap".

Why be ambitious, when you can just be here to say…
posted by zamboni at 9:07 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Long sentences without the letter e; entirely alliterative sentences; sentences/poems where the first letter of each word/line spells something out.

Legal forms, like
and WHEREAS ____;
or "the party of the first part"

If you run out of styles, you could always parody famous specific poems or opening lines...
this is a fun question!
posted by trig at 9:10 AM on August 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

This is just to say
posted by fountainofdoubt at 9:12 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Why be ambitious, when you can just be "here to say…"

Or lik the bred
posted by trig at 9:13 AM on August 13, 2020 [6 favorites]

"The following very singular data were discovered under circumstances so uncanny and hideous that they deserve careful description."
posted by pipeski at 9:18 AM on August 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

I once did an article in "hard-boiled detective" style.

The most recent Bulwer-Lytton competition winners might also provide inspiration.
posted by angiep at 9:20 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is just to say

I have retrieved
the data
That was in
the repository

And which
you are probably
in spreadsheets

posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:20 AM on August 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare this data

We the People of [this Slack's name], in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this data
posted by katra at 9:23 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Dr. Seuss?
posted by armeowda at 9:25 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Choose your own adventure!
posted by restless_nomad at 9:31 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Fairytale: once upon a time, there was a little spreadsheet...
Jeeves: Very well, Sir. If I may be so bold as to draw your attention to this marvelous specimen ...
Joke: 3 data points walk into a bar ...
Lebowski: Yeah, well, that's just, like, your data set, man ...
posted by meijusa at 9:32 AM on August 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Meme language:

I (you) can haz...
Much data so numbers wow
All your data are belong to us
etc etc
posted by misskaz at 9:40 AM on August 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Gilbert and Sullivan got you covered:

My eyes are fully open to our awful situation

A wand'ring data scientist I, a thing of shreds and patches

I am the very model of a modern data scientist

Three little stats who all unwary come from a data reposit-ary

I've got a little list...
posted by basalganglia at 9:50 AM on August 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think there might be some potential in adapting famous speeches, documents, and literature, e.g.

We choose to publish this data and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.
posted by katra at 10:07 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Some ideas - adjust to your needs as you see fit:

Star Wars: In a galaxy far far away...
Snoopy: It was a dark and stormy night
Dickens: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Somehow adjust a film noir narrative: She was just sitting there. For all he knew, she could have been thinking about spreadsheets all night.

Or Golden Girls: Picture it: Sicily. 1952. We didn't even know what spreadsheets were...

Afterschool special: The more you know...

Comic book: ??
posted by hydra77 at 10:08 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Check out some intros to old radio dramas for some good inspo:
- gunsmoke
- johnny dollar
- dragnet
- the whistler
posted by stinkfoot at 10:22 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Lord, what fools these data be!”

"To be, or not to be: that is the data:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?"

"Now is the data of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried."

"Is this the data which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee."

"If data be the food of love, play on."
posted by katra at 10:30 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

"Captain's log, stardate [etc.]"
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:47 AM on August 13, 2020 [4 favorites]


"Doctors HATE HIM! Follow this ONE WEIRD TRICK for real data! CLICK HERE"
posted by castlebravo at 11:03 AM on August 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

You could run through Queneau's Exercises in Style.
posted by vacapinta at 11:10 AM on August 13, 2020 [2 favorites]


Arrrh! Share ye data like a pirate, Matey!
posted by Mchelly at 11:27 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

- Different languages! Address them in German, or Russian!

- Yoda-speak
posted by Omnomnom at 11:33 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Burr's intros from Hamilton:
How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a
Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
Spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished, in squalor
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

How does the bastard, orphan, son of a whore
Go on and on
Grow into more of a phenomenon?

How does a ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower
Somehow defeat a global superpower?

How does the bastard orphan
Immigrant decorated war vet
Unite the colonies through more debt?

How does Hamilton,
the short-tempered, protean creator
of the coast guard,
founder of the New York Post
ardently abuse his cabinet post
destroy his reputation?
Welcome folks, to the Adam’s Admistration.

How does Hamilton
An arrogant
Immigrant, orphan
Bastard, whoreson
Somehow endorse
Thomas Jefferson, his enemy
A man he’s despised since the beginning
Just to keep me from winning?
posted by natabat at 11:47 AM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Chaucer: "The firste partie of this tretys shal contene diverse tables and many anothir notable conclusioun ..." Paraphrased from here.
posted by JonJacky at 12:01 PM on August 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes! These are AMAZING!

Favorites and gratitude all round. 8am data posts have suddenly become my new most-anticipated thing.
posted by picopebbles at 3:07 PM on August 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Sherlock Holmes: Ah, Watson, and then there was the curious matter of the data barking. I don't recall any mention of the data barking. Well yes, and wasn't that curious? But the data did say:

Old fashioned: Greetings, and hoping this data finds you well.

Phonetic: Prepare to copy message with Delta - Alpha - Tango - Alpha

Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Well, if you're here, and I'm here, doesn't that make it "our" data?

Star Trek: Our mission is to explore the internet. To seek out new data and new data sources. To boldly go where nobody has found data before!
posted by forthright at 3:53 PM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

For sale; daily data. Never used.

Oh wait - that's my workplace.
posted by mce at 4:06 PM on August 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of TensorFlow,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis Support Vector Machine" I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only data, and nothing more."
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:54 PM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just a Python girl
Regressin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere

Just a Hadoop boy
Clustering in South Detroit
He took the midnight train goin' anywhere...
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:06 PM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm shocked, shocked! to find that probability is going on in here!
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:12 PM on August 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Is this the data?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:30 PM on August 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

I had a co-worker who sent around an email written as if it was the daily morning bulletin for a summer camp. There were daily events, lunch menu etc for Camp . Also, IIRC, a song of the day.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:57 PM on August 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

There are several good models of police (or military) reporting. Dragnet: we were working the day shift out of telecommunications when a report of illegal use of Reply All came in. We traced it to a new hire in accounting. At 9:35 am, we visited the perpetrator in an office on the 4th floor.

I don't know what a psychotherapist's note are like, but......
posted by SemiSalt at 2:09 PM on August 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

"You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop: the [name of whatever your report is]."

"Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three. Come with me, and you'll be, in a world of [whatever your data is]."

posted by Rhaomi at 11:25 PM on August 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

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