An Appeal for Friction Writing

Richard Hughes Gibson in The Hedgehog Review:

A graduate student recently posed this question to me: What is the most common mistake that scholars make when they try to write about contemporary issues? Questions like this usually make me nervous, since the offices of cultural commentator and public intellectual remain very mysterious to me. But in this case, I had a ready answer because we all make the same mistake when writing about contemporary issues: Our writing process lacks sufficient resistance, hesitation, reconsideration—in short, friction.

In calling this “friction,” I deliberately invoke—and challenge—one of the metaphors that has captivated (and inevitably spread beyond) the tech industry during the last decade: “frictionless” design. Ten years ago, Mark Zuckerberg made this metaphor an industry standard when he boasted that improvements at Facebook were ushering in a “frictionless experience” for users. Since then, all of the big tech companies (and companies in other industries) have made friction-reduction a high priority, whether friction is an extra click, an additional action, or another decision that slows a user down.

More here.