Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Uncommon Virtue: Steinbeck, Jobs, Watson & Crick

By John Garvey

John Steinbeck's masterpiece East of Eden is 600 pages long, and I'd fight like hell to prevent it being shortened one paragraph. The year following its publication, scientists James Watson and Francis Crick described, for the first time, the structure of the DNA double helix in Nature magazine. 

Scientific American reported sixty years later that "Regardless of the report's brevity, the announcement changed the world of medicine and science forever." Fast forward to 2007. Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone in what "is considered by many to be one of the greatest business presentations of all time." (Carmine Gallo, The Storyteller's Secret)

What do these three things have in common? Brevity.

“Wait,” you ask, “how can you apply the term ‘brevity’ to a 600-page novel?”
I simply define brevity as:
(1) never using two words where one will do,
(2) avoiding tangents that don't support the theme or narrative.

By that two-pronged definition you are freed from parameters about length but forbidden from flowery, bullshit detours.

… I think that will do.

John writes about clean energy/cleantech R&D, business model innovation, the Colorado hemp industry, sustainability, passive architecture and anything that's brewed, distilled or fermented. He contributes to more than a half-dozen magazines, blogs and news publications.

His slogan sums it up: Reliable, Entertaining Content.

You can read more of his portfolio at

Watson, J.D., Crick, F.H. "A structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid." Nature, 1953; 171: 737–738. [PDF]
Markel, Howard. “February 28: The Day Scientists Discovered the Double Helix.” Scientific American, February 28, 2013
Gallo, Carmine. The Storyteller's Secret. St. Martin’s Press, 2016

1 comment:

Laura Mahal said...

In short, the best ending possible, John.

Nicely written and unquestionably succinct.

Share a Post