Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wabi-Sabi - This way lies madness!

This post is yet another rant about the quality of the technical writing I have been seeing lately. In a LinkedIn discussion-forum about technical writing, I came across a link to a blog post wherein the author seems to both embrace and exemplify the aesthetic called "wabi-sabi" (a Japanese term that generally means embracing imperfections for their artistic value) for technical writing. Personally, I see that as nothing but an excuse for bad writing. As LinkedIn does not have room in their comment field for a rant of this length, I have posted it here.


Perfection in anything is impossible. However, I believe the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic has no place in technical writing. Wabi-sabi embraces imperfections almost to the point of idolizing them. Wabi-sabi began as a mindset of appreciating the imperfections that come with age and wear but has become an aesthetic of intentionally introducing flaws for artistic effect. While technical writing is "an art" it is not Art (with a capital 'A'). For far too many technical writers - or at least people who like to call themselves technical writers - this wabi-sabi aesthetic seems to have become nothing but an excuse for bad writing. 

This article (and the author's entire blog) is a perfect example. There are so many errors it is almost unreadable. It strikes me as nothing more than "content" generated by the vast internet-content grist mills. I understand that this author is very likely not a native English speaker. However, he has chosen to write in English and to write - of all things - about writing. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect said author to actually learn to use the words, idioms, and grammar of said chosen language. He hasn't even come close.