Rediscovering the Essay by Keith Hampson

 Michel de Montaigne, "Father" of the essay

Michel de Montaigne, "Father" of the essay

Taking the time to read for pleasure often feels like a luxury. Time is limited, and studies suggest that our consumption of media has become only more fragmented. We may find time to skim short news articles, and we read for work, but consumption of long form writing is down.

Yet, we're seeing a renewed interest in the long form essay; those slowly and thoughtfully crafted efforts that not only convey information, but do it in creative ways. 

If its' been a while since you enjoyed a long form essay, we've put together your starter-kit. 


Collections of Essays


Sponsored by the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh)

Longreads publishes and curates writing, from personal essays to investigative journalism.


A Hand-Picked Selection of Well-Regarded Essays

Shattered Glass by Buzz Bissinger

The Death of the Moth by Virginia Woolf

On Fear. Our Positive Capability by Mary Ruefle

Mister Lytle: An Essay by John Jeremiah Sullivan

On Self-Respect by Joan Didion

Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace

California Notes by Joan Didion


Capturing and Reading Essays

We recommend Instapaper. It allows you to quickly capture and organise essays (or anything else) on your desktop or mobile. You'll want to get the browser extension, as well. 

A Well-Crafted Explanation of BlockChain Technology by Keith Hampson

Time will tell if blockchain is as revolutionary as is currently believed. It wouldn't be the first technological innovation to come out of nowhere and fade just as fast from public attention. But more than a few whip-smart people are convinced that it will become an essential tool. Its' application to credentialing in higher education is highly anticipated. Given the technology's unique properties, I suspect it may accelerate the move towards greater decentralisation in education - from whom we learn and how we distribute validation of our learning. We shall see.

If you're not clear about the technology's core functions, check out this interesting construction: Blockchain: The New Technology of Trust. 






Seven Narratives to Structure Your Presentations by Keith Hampson

We recognise how storytelling can make presentations more compelling and memorable. But where to begin? How does one use narrative in presentations? The following is a list of some of the more common narrative structures. If you have a presentation coming up, consider how one of these might help you structure the presentation and give it a more dramatic punch.  

 Photo by  seabass creatives  

Overcoming a Monster

A tale in which someone faces a formidable foe and through great courage, overcomes. 

Rags to Riches

A tale in which an individual or a group of people manage to overcome their difficult circumstances and rise to prominence through hard work.   

Voyage and Return

The protagonist leaves "home" (however you wish to define it) to venture into unfamiliar realms, learns a great deal as a result, and then returns home to share the lessons learnt. 

The Quest

A group of people set off in pursuit of a specific outcome (e.g. knowledge) and by working as a team, and drawing on each other's strengths, they grow in the process. 


A comedic tale that describes a transition from confusion to enlightenment. 


A tale of someone that made the wrong decision and suffered as a result. 


A tale that reminds us that change is always possible and even the direst situations can be salvaged. 

Source: 7 Storytelling Structures to Improve Your Presentation

The Science of Timing by Keith Hampson

Most people accept that there are better or worse times for certain types of activities. But recent research suggests that we'd be well-served by taking a more tactical approach to how we plan our days. Dan Pink addresses timing in his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. It offers a number of useful insights you can apply today.  

 Photo by  Loic Djim

Photo by Loic Djim

"[T]he performance change between the daily high point and the daily low point can be equivalent to the effect on performance of drinking the legal limit of alcohol," according to Russell Foster, a neuroscientist and chronobiologist at the University of Oxford.

Fear not: you can ignore the click-bait style title of the book. As with the other topics that Dan Pink has addressed, he's created a sufficiently rigorous, but readable manuscript. 

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Interview with Dan Pink

Dan Pink Site