This post originally appeared in the January 9, 2020 issue of The Content Technologist with the email subject line "Be more like Inigo Montoya, without the bloodlust."

Update 8/3/22: Light edits made for clarity and style. Cut down the run-on sentences by about half.

My first college lit seminar presented me with Derrida and Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons,” and I muttered angrily: “I’ll never need this pretentious bullshit in real life. Ever.” At the time, the uselessness of poetics and semiotics seemed deliciously indulgent. Which of my business school classmates would ever need this?

As a drunken freshman, I would read Tender Buttons at friends in dorm rooms and dark bars. They ignored me, which was fair.

I also believed I’d never need geometric proofs or any advanced math in my career, but here I am! Working in the content mines combines post-structuralist semiotics theory and algebra on the daily.

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