Writing and Formatting

I just read a good post on Gadetopia about writing skills and had a small correction to offer. Go read it and come back (and read the two linked posts about Word and Frontpage use). I’ll wait.

Typewriter Keys My correction is to Deane’s list of “really poorly-formatted text” he sees over and over -- he actually has two lists:

Really poorly-formatted text

Really poorly-written text

Writing well is hard, especially for a young medium like the web where we’re still figuring out what works on top of the fact that most people never actually learn to write well. I saw a letter a few days ago that read “You have been selected for a process called VERIFICATION. Verification is a process by which we are required to verify certain information you submitted on your FAFSA application.” Formatting is not that writer’s first problem.

laptop and typewriter Additionally, writing on a computer requires thinking about structure and form in a way that’s wholly alien to writing longhand or on a typewriter. On those, what you see is all you get. What you see on a computer is a representation of some content controlled by generally invisible metadata. Today’s kids are still being taught by the typewriter generation, so it’s going to be at least another twenty years before the kids who grew up with an understanding of this duality start teaching to the kids who won’t believe it could be any other way.