Finer Points of Coarse Grains

, Sep 10, 2004

Scoble writes about blogging strategies:

If you want a long-term presence on the net, it’s better to go on your own and have your own domain and control of your stuff. It’s more granular, but granularity makes for stronger communities longterm.

I agree, but noticed something totally unrelated to his argument — his use of “granular”. Maybe some of my readers who speak English natively can enlighten me: Isn’t “granular” neutral as to the size of the grains? Wouldn’t it have to be “fine granularity” as opposed to “coarse granularity”? Isn’t what Scoble means to say “it’s more fine grained, but …”?

On September 10, 2004 9:29 AM, Jim Webber said:

Hey Stefan, English seems to be a highly fluid language, especially when used in American business mode. “Move forward” has replaced “make progress” and the noun “leverage” has somehow become a verb. I suspect that “more granular” means “more coarsely grained” and those of us that speak un-American English will just have to transform those kind of phrases into whatever the equivalent in our locale is. Jim

On September 10, 2004 10:40 AM, Stefan Tilkov said:

Thanks, Jim … but if I look at his argument, wouldn’t it be sensible to assume that he means “more fine(ly) grained”? (Yet another question while we’re at it - grammatically, I see that it would have to be “coarsely grained” instead of “coarse grained”, although the latter seems to be a lot more common.

On September 10, 2004 3:30 PM, Chris Bickford said:

Granular is neutral to the size of the grains, but in general use … it’s hard to explain.

The closest I can explain is looking at granular as a continuum from “not granular” to “coarsely granular” to “finely granular”. By saying “more”, it makes a comparison, either from not granular to somewhat or from somewhat to very.

By not using “finely grained” he’s either implying that the end result, while more granular, isn’t very granular, or he’s chopping out extra words - the “finely” in “finely grained” doesn’t add anything to the comparison, since it’s relative not absolute.

Or maybe I’m just over analyzing this.

On September 11, 2004 9:59 AM, Dan Weinreb said:

I agree. “Granular” means that something is broken up into grains. “More granular” means that it has a greater degree of that quality, i.e. it is “more broken up into grains”, which is the same as having finer granularity. At least that’s how it seems to me as an English speaker.

On September 11, 2004 11:17 PM, Stefan Tilkov said:

Thanks — that makes sense to me (sort of).