Bloggers and writing as a social act…

Speaking of typos in blogging, check out this Wired article about the effects (affects?) of blogging on the quality of writing. I have, for quite some time, been concerned about this issue. Writing and language is a social activity and considering how inherently social a phenomenon blogging is, I cringe whenever I see a blog post that says “then” when the person meant “than” or “its” when the person meant “it’s” or any of a hundred errors being passed along communally.

Of course, the flip side of this is that English, as a language, is much more complex and convoluted than it needs to be. We have far too many words (this phrase, “too many words,” was the name of my first website, back in the pre-blog days), many more words than are necessary to communicate, and thus, I think, our communication can sometimes be more muddied than it should be. So, perhaps it will be better 100 years from now if “then” and “than” are essentially the same thing and the meaning is determined, like most meaning, from the context.

Then again, someone writing “Than again…” still makes me cringe.

About C.K. Sample III

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4 Responses to Bloggers and writing as a social act…

  1. Jay says:

    I have to say, I’ve never seen the appeal of this particular line of reasoning. Their blogs, ferchirssakes, cut the unwashed some slack. tony Long strikes me as one of those unsufferable pedants who goes around finding people’s typos and pointing them out on his blog ro castigating the author in the comments. Oh, wait…

    Seriously, though, there are a couple of things going on here. First, there’s a differnce between bad writing and bad typing. Typos do not make writing bad. Does 600 years of textual error introduced by decidedly mediocre copyists make Chaucer a bad writer? Does the awful quarto edition of Hamlet make Shakespeare lousy? Of course we could argue that in these cases the error isn’t the authors, but they make the pbasic point: good writing has little to do with pucntuation, and less to do with spelling. Hell, English spelling has only been standardized, insofar as it is standardized, for 150 years.

    I know you’ve probably seen photocopies of Joyce’s and Proust’s manuscripts. You want to talk about some correlation between good writing and good typing or penmanship? Ha!

    Tony’s whole essay becomes a joke when he gives the New Yorker as a an example of a place to go to experience good writing. Does he really thing the stories in the New Yorker were any better than the average blog post when the authors handed them to the copyeditors? Let me say that again: Ha!

    Blogs are quick, off-the-cuff, the internet’s verzion of open mic night. People who can’t handle that should stay off line.

    If Tony wants his favorite bloggers to be as polished as his favorite columnists, he should offer to hire them editors. Personally, I go to blogs for speed, and if someone’s going to tell me about a security hole in my OS of choice, I’d rather they didn’t take the time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, thank you very much.

  2. Jay says:

    …and the typos above are, of course, deliberate illustrations of my point. ;)

  3. Bill says:

    I live like I type……………fast, and with lots of mistakes.

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