I’d like to start by first talking about software engineering itself, and whether it can legitimately be called engineering. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “engineering” as:
The branch of science and technology concerned with the development and modification of engines (in various senses), machines, structures, or other complicated systems and processes using specialized knowledge or skills, typically for public or commercial use; the profession of an engineer. Freq. with distinguishing word.
By this definition I believe it’s fair to describe the design and creation of software as “software engineering” and I’m going to proceed with the rest of this post on that basis.
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I want to talk today about that all important entity that often gives us joy, sometimes anguish, and is the reason we service providers get up in the morning. The dear customer.
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I’ve blogged before about how the standard of our written language is rapidly deteriorating, and today I wanted to talk about how we’re making the problem worse with computers.
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Whether it’s Apple versus Android, Linux versus anything else or, TechnologyA versus TechnologyB, tech fanboys are everywhere. I’m ashamed to admit that I used to be one, but proud to say that I no longer am.
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In the age of cellphone text messages, online instant messaging and e-mail we are using written communication more than ever before. It seems ironic then that our language is suffering as much as it is.
Believe it or not but “txt speak” is actually going to be allowed in some schools. Why have we spent centuries developing our language to be so expressive and concise only for it to be mangled virtually beyond recognition?
Worse still, this problem isn’t limited to teenagers and others from the online generation.
We seem to be relaxing on our written language standards even in the workplace. Every day I write far more words in e-mails than I speak in phone calls. Far too much time is spent reading and re-reading e-mails trying to decipher what people are talking about. It seems that many people don’t even read over their messages even once after they’ve written them to detect the most basic of grammatical errors. Spell checkers are obviously useless in this instance even though sadly they have somehow become the one and only check for not only e-mail but much documentation.
I’ve recently even seen job advertisements with horrible “txt speak” adaptations! What kind of people do recruitment agencies hope to attract? If I see a job ad with that kind of rubbish in the title I skip immediately over to the next one.
10 Items or Less? 10 Items or FEWER!
This is obviously more of a vent than anything else. I don’t expect anyone to become a language Nazi like me in the near future just from reading this article. Perhaps people just need to pick up a classic novel now and then to re-learn the basics. Is the problem in schools? I’m not sure. It’s not all that long ago that I was in school myself and there was certainly a decent amount of emphasis on effective usage of the English language.
I think it’s probably just our culture. Maybe it’s just another by-product of our constantly expanding hunger for super convenience. Come to think of it, maybe we will be much more efficient once we devolve back to grunts and basic body language. The integration of basic universal sign language in every day life, particularly on the roads, seems to also be on the rise anyway so why not add in a few grunts and screams for good measure?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the continuing evolution of the language. I can certainly also appreciate subtle online additions such as the humble emoticon. Used appropriately these can effectively enhance or emphasise in just the right way ;-)
It’s more important now than ever before to have decent written communication skills. With so much writing going on we can’t afford for effective communication to suffer any further. We’ve already let our standards slide far too much.