Read It And Smile

Those of us who enjoy writing and communication are frequently disturbed by the fact that everyone with a pulse pretty much thinks they can do a better job than we can.  Especially if you are attempting to write for money.

People look at an artist’s work and say “I could never do that, I can’t draw”.   Or eat a good meal and say “Gee, I wish I could cook like that”.  They wouldn’t assume that they could do a similar job right out of the gate.

But EVERYONE seems to think “I tell ya, I could write a book about it”.  Or “I could have written a better (fill in the blank)”.

Because it’s something we are heavily schooled in, and do every day, we seem to assume expertise.  Even when we don’t do that for other subjects that we are exposed to all our academic lives.  People can’t calculate how much to tip because “I was never good at math”.

But just today – almost back to back – I ran into a few examples of people who might want to run an editorial eye over what they’ve put down and committed to the Internet:

From a blog post, by a “venture capitalist”:

On the surface, incubators and accelerators seem like a low cost way for VCs and government support organizations to cluster entrepreneurs and determine the top-notch talent out the accepted cohort. The opportunity to investing in real estate and services that enable companies where the winners are chosen by the merits of the businesses being built.”

What?  the top-notch talent out the accepted cohort?  the opportunity to investing?

A headline from a local small-town newspaper about a new development called UMore.

UMore projects and where their at”

“In coming month residents may notice some activity out on the property”.

You don’t have to look very far to see examples far worse than this.  The news crawlers on TV stations are full of them.  Online newspapers have headlines that would make a competent fifth-grader cringe.

We all make spelling and simple grammatical mistakes.  But the lack of proofreading and editing is really obvious, and the sad part is it makes me discount the point of what the person says.  If my newspaper can’t even tell the difference between “their” and “they’re” what else are they missing?

But when I see instances like this I have to admit a smug feeling comes over me.  I guess because it proves that it isn’t so easy, and that there will always be a need for those who take it seriously and at least try to develop some skill at it.

Perhaps it’s the result of non-native speakers, or software that combs and combines things into articles, like content generators.  Or the explosion of texting and the horrors of that level of abbreviation.

But whatever the reason, if our message is important, we want it delivered in the best way possible.  And we don’t see an overabundance of that.

Regardless of the technology, it’s the “payload” that matters.  And from goose quill pen to Word 2012 that payload is the word.

So when you see an example of poor writing, it’s just a reminder that there’s always room at the top.

PS:  I’ve read this over a few times, but can’t help the sneaking suspicion that I’ve probably made a mistake in spelling or grammar somewhere.  Please take any such errors as proof of the continuing need for editing services, thereby validating the point of this post.




2 thoughts on “Read It And Smile

  1. Harry, a reader recently asked me what grammar software program I recommend! I recommend a human brain! These programs are nothing but expensive spellcheckers (which are often wrong). How can a computer program possibly know the nuances of your passages?

    The first example you gave by the “venture capitalist” almost sounds like it was generated by a spambot. And yes, many people could “write a book about it.” That’s great—we need storytellers—but we also need editors, the human kind.

    • I scan Hacker News, which usually has some pretty interesting links for tech stuff, but am sometimes appalled at the blog postings of people who purport to be CEO’s, etc. I guess it shows that they write their own material, though! I’d hate to think they are paying a marketing/PR person to write like that.

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