Looking for a (fondly remembered) short story where an entrepreneur notes that people don't really like paying attention to the news but they dislike even more feeling out of the loop. So he starts selling the ultimate Reader's Digest of news: all the stories of the day boiled down to a single nonsensical word by patented process: the happy consumer reads "pudquitch" at breakfast and goes about their day feeling informed.

I think it was by a sci-fi author: the wry view of modern life could fit someone like Pohl. But unfortunately I don't remember anything of the title, and googling for anything like "short story" returns endless "become a writer" blogspam.

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    I for one would like to read this. Edit: I mean diffusistan. – Broklynite Jun 20 '15 at 15:16
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    A related idea appears in a Stanislaw Lem story - at an international scientific conference, authors don't have enough time to explain their papers, so they just quote the paragraph numbers of their stories: "10, 11, and 18!" – fastmultiplication Jun 21 '15 at 7:58
  • This would be the sort of plot that R A Rafferty would write. However, I've no idea who or what this would be. – Covertwalrus Jun 22 '15 at 23:50
  • I've read it, but all I can tell you is that it was almost certainly published in either Analog, Asimov, or The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, as those were the only ones I subscribed to and typically the only ones I read. Not much help, I realize. – Kaine Mar 11 '16 at 2:48

That sounds like "Irtnog" by E.B. White. It originally ran in The New Yorker in 1935.

New Yorker archives (subscription required)

Full text


.... Shapiro was a sort of Einstein. He had read prodigiously; and as he thought back over all the things that he had ever read, he became convinced that it would be possible to express them in mathematical quintessence. He was positive that he could take everything that was written and published each day, and reduce it to a six-letter word. He worked out a secret formula and began posting daily bulletins, telling his result. Everything that had been written during the first day of his formula came down to the word IRTNOG. The second day, everything reduced to EFSITZ. People accepted these mathematical distillations; and strangely enough, or perhaps not strangely at all, people were thoroughly satisfied, which would lead one to believe that what readers really craved was not so much the contents of books, magazines, and papers as the assurance that they were not missing anything.....

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