free markets, free culture

Academia vs Industry = Interrobang?!

with one comment

In a recent post to the Harvard Business blog, president of RISD design school John Maeda broke down the differences between academia and industry, in terms of punctuation:


Basically, academic thinking takes a lot of free, expansive thinking, that can wander sometimes, and sometimes go on tangents, and ask rhetorical questions, on its quest for knowledge. Academia can be the unending sentence, braced by more commas and continuations.

Contrast that with business and industry, which require a goal and an end date. Business is a full-stop period. It knows where its going and stops.

Industry is also a loud exclamation point. It has to shout to be heard in a competitive market place (!!!!!)

In contrast, academia is the question mark, the critical thinking that guides us.

Read John’s post for a good synthesis on how these four punctuation marks play out in the academic and industry spaces. It explains some of the miscommunication or misplaced intentions between academics and business folks — one thinks the other is stuck in the ivory tower; the other things the one is too short-sighted.

(I’m sure some situations call for the interrobang: a typographic character, a combination of the question mark and exclamation point at once.)


Written by @hellopanelo

April 12, 2009 at 4:11 pm

One Response

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  1. I can’t tell you how much I experience the comma, the question mark, and the interrobang every day in my full-time job in academia. I also witnessed it before I was even hired…funny story, and too long for a post. Anyway, thanks for the new vocab word.


    April 21, 2009 at 11:50 pm

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