22 Dec 2015
More than a few times over the past year, in the midst of going down an Internet rabbit hole, I’ve wondered what my dad would make of all this. A world of information at my fingertips; searches that beget endless questions. He still had dial-up when he died. The pixelated outer space sound would ping through his small condo while he would wait to check the messages in his AOL account.
Q: Can you describe the difference between “ignorance” and “stupidity”? I often wonder about the distinction when reading your posts.
A: The Language Ninja is literally and figuratively sputtering with rage at your insult disguised as a query. She concedes, however, that it is elegantly framed. Well met!
There was a time, in the not-too-distant past, when technical writing as a profession held a comfortable, well-established place in the development of products and software. At least, among mature organizations who understood the value that a technical writer brings to the process. Particularly in the software industry, technical writers could count on a fairly predictable routine that coincided with a development cycle that (usually) provided ample time to write 500-page user manuals, plus the online help topics.
04 Dec 2015
In journalism, commas in a list are frowned on (AP Style outright bans them), and simplistic writing is encouraged. While journalists are, by far, some of the best writers out there, they have to adhere to a certain style—and not just AP or inverted pyramid. Their writing itself must be presented a specific way, or the piece gets tossed back at them like flotsam. “Your word count is too high,” is an often-heard complaint from news editors. “Re-arrange your first four paragraphs and cut back on the prose,” et cetera.