October 24, 2001

Inappropriate

A webpage created entirely with a publishing tool or a standards document converted to Adobe's portable document format from a presentation product is a neglect of its content's intended audience. The fever with which the word content is being used today can only lead to ambiguity. From where there was void, content producers are now springing up like fresh lettuce for rabbits. Content is manhandled like a sweaty boxing glove, packaged in boxes, carted around, translated by caclulating machines into bewildered tongues, painted over and crushed into haughty, nouveau-riche demi-serif fonts. In spite, content is pretty simple: it's just what you want to say. Everyone has something to say, especially someone who has just spent a long time building something, say a cryptography algorithm or a farm. Farms have nothing to do with cryptography algorithms, actually, and it's probably a bad example, like all those examples of stock-quote transactions that are going to be so easy for computers to do for us under Microsoft's .NET platform. But if somebody has just spent six months making a new version of a cryptography toolkit, or an automatic comment generator for C++ code, or a new type of horseshoe, like Edward in The Good Soldier, then all their pleasure in having finished the damn thing gushes out as content. It would be a bad idea to get someone else to talk about the horseshoe. Or maybe it wouldn't. But when faced with the task of writing something down, the wrong place to turn is Powerpoint. Writing bullets is not very communicative, and doesn't show off the natural pride one should have in their own work. Web pages shouldn't be made by Publisher either. They emerge disturbed and boxy: those elevated quotations only serve to fill up space on a fixed-size page. Scroll bars extinguish this need. Nobody would dream that content will suddenly light up like a clear arrow in everyone's tunnel. But for anyone who wonders why they feel like what they've just written down is shit, well, it's probably because they wrote it in bullets in Powerpoint. To these fine folks: what you've jsut written is a good summary of what you realy want to say, but each of your bullets must justify itself. What question does it answer? What curiosity does it satisfy? Remember then, to chop a lot of bullets out.
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