Post haste

14 03 2011

Today’s thought is about encouraging public sector workers in Scotland to blog more, prompted by this excellent post by Lesley. For me there are a number of obstacles to blogging: workload, worry over what is allowed and what isn’t, finding a decent subject to write about, embarrassment…then I look at the potential rewards. These are all a bit more abstract than the pitfalls. Nobody from IT is going to send me an email saying how great it is that I blog, are they?

By blogging about work I am forced to collect my thoughts and set them out in a (semi)-logical manner. It also improves my communication skills and sharpens my mind. It can be seen as a “luxury” activity, i.e. I will only do it when my workload allows, but that doesn’t mean that time spent blogging is wasted; rather, it is spent investigating digital media, keeping up with new developments and discussing these with fellow comms professionals.

If I had to list one major factor that would put me off blogging just now, it would be the current climate for public servant bashing. This, combined with the appetite for cuts, means that anyone who admits to the slightest bit of “down-time” in their working day lays themselves open to accusations of skiving, wasting public money and suchlike.

So I’m going to write a post that lays down some of the arguments against this point of view. To save me spending too much time on it, I’ll put them in a list:

I probably spent a total of 10 minutes writing this, although these minutes have been spread out over the space of a few hours (I do have other things to do after all!). I think it’s been time well spent. Hopefully others do too.

Apostrophic failure

9 03 2011

Coming across this article on how grammar and punctuation have evolved on the web got me thinking. I’ve always been a stickler for correctness, and have to admit to being one of the people Eats, Shoots and Leaves was aimed at (despite the use of the Oxford comma there!).

When I first started a blog back in 1997, I decided to write exclusively in lower case as I found it more aesthetically pleasing. I still observed all other rules of grammar and I don’t think the content was harder to read than if it was written conventionally, but this only worked because it was on the web and broken down into small chunks. Reading a printed novel written like that would be a nightmare! The same goes for fonts: what looks good on the screen (Arial or Verdana) can be harder to read in print, where a serif font is usually more appropriate. The reverse is also true – nothing puts me off a webpage more than Times New Roman!

I welcome the evolution of language on the web. Having struggled unsuccessfully to master the art of programming, I find it ironic that it’s digital media pushing for this evolution when punctuation and syntax are such harsh masters in coding country. A single misplaced semi-colon can render a 500-line program useless! I bet programmers wish their compilers would be so forgiving.