Hard Hitting Computing

Subject: Hard Hitting Computing
From: "Higgins, Lisa R." <eilrh -at- EXCHANGE -dot- WCC -dot- LUCENT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 13:35:00 -0500

Matthew Stern wrote:

>Ben Hechter suggested:
>>Maybe we could come up with a glossary of two-fisted computing terms.

>I can think of more than a few such terms. However, I think we should
>avoid using such terms when possible. The less violent terms are less
>offensive and clearer than the more "hard-hitting" ones.

I don't think so at all. I've worked at companies that had policies
against using terminology such as "hit a key," "abort a procedure,"
"disable something," and so forth, and frankly, this sort of pantywaist
writing is not only irritating, but tends toward the incomprehensible.

Think about it. Whether you are familiar with Unix or not, you KNOW what
the kill command does (unless, of course, you are the cheesehead who
wrote the screenplay for Disclosure; but then again, if you are, you
also think that 'aggressive' commands appear in 36 point blood red

To kind of tie this in with a couple of other threads going on, I think
it behooves us tech writers to look at the industry trends toward
third-party documentation. As long as there's a market for third party
docs, they will be around. And as long as they're around, more and more
companies are going to follow the lead of Microsoft and stop doing
documentation. And, as is the case with MS, this is a good thing
sometimes. Working in a company can make you insular. It's easy to lose
sight of what your audience wants and needs. And many, many of us have.
Maybe we need a little open market competition to remind us that real,
live users are not going to be cast into a maelstrom of controversy by
the appearance of the word "abort" on their screen or in their
documentation. They know what it means. And do we really think that
anyone will prefer "mouse devices" over "mice," "mouses," or "meece"?

>Here are some examples:

>"Cancel" instead of "abort."

This reminds me of when they cancelled "The New Mighty Mouse" and "Get
a Life." It makes me really sad, so that I have to go home on disability
leave to ruminate on the unfairness that is all around me. How about
"opt out of initial decision, leaving the future open for any
opportunity that may arise"?

>"Failure" instead of "crash" or "bomb."

"Failure" is so judgemental. How about "non-standard, uniquely diverse,
or differently correct response"?

>"Recoverable error" instead of "non-fatal error."

Again, judgemental! Try "uniquely compliant, with option for uniform

>"Nonrecoverable error" instead on "fatal error."

"Unapologetically uniquely compliant."

>Matthew Stern

You might want to try "Matthew Gruff-but-Lovable"

Lisa Higgins
eilrh -at- wcc -dot- lucent -dot- com

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