If you have "no place to go," come here!

Newsweek should have checked with an English major before printing their scoop on Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto

(The original Newsweek story; which Newsweek stands behind, though many are (rightly) skeptical.) However, as a one-time English major, I find the "Who is slash are Satoshi Nakamoto?" controversy less interesting than this analysis from the FT, which in my view shows why Newsweek is just wrong. The FT actually looks at Satoshi Nakamoto's seminal paper on bitcoin, and compares it to words that Newsweek's alleged Nakamoto wrote:

Consider also Section 2, which immediately follows the introduction:

Let’s walk through the [editor's] marks briefly, in order:

1. “We define” are the very first words. Not only is this the proper way to introduce a concept, but doing so without any throat clearing is a mark of a well-crafted and confident paper.

2. Similarly, the diagram gets no introduction. Nothing along the lines of “as I have diagrammed below” that one might expect from non-academy writers.

3. “Of course” — because we would not want to insult our smartest readers.

4. “[What] We need [is] a way” is academic for “here comes the crux”.

5. “For our purposes” is a typical way to introduce simplifying assumptions.

6. “Mint based model” refers to the common solution above, and the author assumes the reader will have no trouble putting that together.

7. The footnote is dropped precisely — just after a central, possibly controversial, assertion.

And that’s only the first few paragraphs on the very first page. As the paper gets more technical, the style becomes even more pronounced. At one point, between two large mathematical expressions, the author writes:

Rearranging to avoid summing the infinite tail of the distribution.

Which reads like nothing more than a professor quickly walking a class or seminar through a series of difficult calculations, and not wanting anyone to get lost. Dorian Nakamoto’s written English is less erudite:

good secruity system against usage of rail as a get away means from the low income generated theives/criminals from area of east LA et. al must be also put in place regardless of the rail passage chosen

Even more to the point, it would be surprising for anyone with an undergraduate degree in physics, earned forty years ago, to write in such a clear and recognizable modern-academic tone.

I just love close reading, don't you? Le style c'est l'homme même.

NOTE I guess the reluctance to look at the actual words on the page would be a legacy of Tina Brown?

No votes yet