Interesting post on Slashdot this morning – yes, I know, I was surprised too – about refactoring source code using a technique borrowed from PG Wodehouse, as related by Douglas Adams. It’s less contrived than it sounds.

I love things like this. When writing (video) scripts, I usually print them out two-up, and arrange them in a big long line. With my standard script template and writing style a page is pretty reliably a minute of television, so even for the Christmas Lectures it’s not a huge stretch of paper. The resulting stretch of paper, then, isn’t just a script – it’s a timeline of the programme.

I’ll often put the paper on the floor, and grab a big thick marker pen. Standing up I can see the shape of the whole show – see how the big story moments fall, and the relative lengths of sections – but also things like how long a passage of speech is. Too big a grey blur over on the right = too much talk without a stage direction. I’d mark up my notes, and head off for the next revision.

One of the joys of making video for the web is that one can focus on crafting a few short minutes. But sometimes I miss the brain-wrenching struggle of wrestling with longer-form structures.