I have worked at my current writing position for more than a year, in which time I’ve written something like 1,000,000 words (really). Churning out material at this clip makes one notice weird nuances, such as:
- “Growing” and “surging” often qualify nouns in cases such as “growing risk” or “surging demand” but yield themselves more easily to ambiguity than something like “rising,” which seems less verb-y. For example, listing “growing risk” as one of the consequences of political instability seems clear enough, but what if someone is doing the “growing”? (I’m thinking of all those annoying people who say they will “grow the economy”). “Rising” doesn’t have the same issues.
- “Factors,” “elements,” and “areas” are cop-out words. Everyone uses them, but they’re usually signs of weakness in the argument and flow. What IS a factor? Why do we use “area” to assign physical properties to academic fields or abstract feelings? These words are signs that the writer is having trouble and may be at a loss for, well, words.
- “Cyber- ” is awful. I’m pretty sure “cybercriminals” are just “criminals” and ditto for “-crime.” I have no idea where to start with “cyberwar.” These labels are abstraction and digital dualism taken to the extreme.
Still, I learn a lot each day from having to write and edit so much. Today, the front line was hybrid cloud and Ethernet fabrics. A while back, I almost attended Dev Bootcamp to learn, among other subjects, how the Internet worked. I’m glad I didn’t go, since I’ve been taken for a deep dive into how the cloud (read: Internet) operates (I realize I’m mixing metaphors, too). It’s dry and technical on the surface, but there’s satisfaction is discovering what something presented in such obtuse language (‘hybrid,’ ‘private,’ and ‘public’ are all ‘deployment models’ of the cloud) is all about, and then describing it someone in simple prose:
- The hybrid cloud is a combination of machines in a server room and Internet services provided by a company like Amazon.
That wouldn’t fly for plenty of audiences (many of which have picked up the humanist predilection for bad writing). It’s fun to know that there’s basically all there is, though, below layers of shellac about Ethernet fabrics, Layer 2 and Layer 3, and OpenStack.