Thursday, June 24, 2010
What is the purpose of text?
|You can find text like this on thousands of websites:
It's time to take it to the next level. Going forward, we'll help you leverage your core competencies to affect a sea change. You'll be ready to hit the ground running. We'll make sure you get significant face-time with a diverse audience. We take a proactive approach. We think outside the box. At the end of the day, you'll have state-of-the-art solutions.
What did that guy say? I could read it 10 times and still have no idea what his company does.
The purpose of text is to communicate. That means expressing something and being understood. He expressed something, all right. But how well was he understood? There's nothing specific. There are strings of words, but they're not connected to any concrete meaning. And yet, there are those who would find this paragraph completely acceptable. These are the words and phrases that surround us in thousands of articles, speeches, brochures and websites. This is the language of business today. Phooey!
What does it mean to take something to the next level? Are we going from We Stink to We're Mediocre?
What is this box everybody wants to think outside of? There must have been something worthwhile in the box if everybody thought inside it for centuries. And I don't know about you, but my head is not rectangular. Maybe we should think outside the balloon. What if we can't have a solution by the end of the day? What if it takes two days? A month? Are we going to abandon the problem because it takes more than 24 hours to solve?
I don't like buzzwords and trendy phrases that become so common they lose all meaning. They're a symptom of lazy thinking. They allow you to write without saying anything, to make believe that your content has substance. It doesn't!
What if you were in front of a firing squad and were given this choice: Explain what the guy who wrote that paragraph said, or get shot. Uh-oh.