Saturday, August 22, 2009

Oops! I Didn't Know It Meant That!

I am trying out the new Google Reader "Send To" feature that allows me to easily blog about articles I read via Google Reader. Here is the comment I posted about the following article:

Oops! I Didn't Know It Meant That!:

"In my previous post, I wrote about how “advanced” vocabulary words that can be perfect when used in writing are often awkward or pretentious if used in speech. "Advanced” vocabulary words always take up residence in educated minds. They're wonderful, since they bring liveliness to writing by breaking up sentences that otherwise contain mostly ordinary words, and, if used right, they..."

I am currently studying for the GRE. I consider myself to be well read, but many of the GRE vocabulary words just seem completely unnecessary to me. When I read them -or worse- hear them in speech, I always find myself thinking, "Ah, someone else who had to study those damned vocabulary words." Now that they know them they seem compelled to use them, as if to continuously prove that they did, in fact, pass the GRE.

Personally, I think the GRE is ruining academic writing. I have never believed in an ivory tower. All writing should be as accessible as is reasonably possible considering the topic at hand. Peppering our writing with what I alternatively call "GRE-speak" or "Graduatese" does not serve to "spice it up." It only serves to add another layer of separation between academics and the general public. In an age when many in the public (and in pundit land) are inclined to dismiss science and academics, spicing up our writing and speech with incomprehensible words - especially ones that can easily be replaced with common words - only adds to the divisiveness.

I, for one, intend to memorize those infernal vocabulary words, take the test, and then promptly forget them. When I communicate, I prefer to communicate with as many people as possible. Not just those who have been forced to waste their time memorizing a bunch of extraneous words.

The contents of this post is Copyright © 2009 by Grant Sheridan Robertson.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Screw Web 3.0: Whatever Happened to Web 0.0?

I recently read an article posted on ARS Technica and mentioned on Slashdot about replacing MS Word with a wiki for internal business intellegence. Rather than a cogent discussion of how this could be accomplished, I found lots of naysaying and complaining about how that was old news. However, just because some problem is old news is no reason to ignore it. So I posted the following reply on Slashdot.

I agree that Word and other word processors are not as useful as they used to be in an age where many documents are not necessarily printed out. However, that does not mean that nothing will ever be printed again. I also agree that a Wiki is a great way to store business intelligence however, MediaWiki does not have a very easy to use editor. Other wiki servers offer much better editors. I also agree with many posters in Slashdot and ARS that without the ability to easily embed things like spreadsheets into wiki pages then we will still need word processors to generate the documents the way we really want them to look and then post those as .PDF files.

But why is everyone just sitting around whining about how his idea won't work instead of getting together and figuring out a way to make it work.