Sunday, June 19, 2005

An Original Copy

I've been introduced to the site "Oxymoronica." My preliminary conclusion is that I love it. The word is defined by the site owner as

"[a]ny compilation of phrases or quotations that initially appear illogical or nonsensical, but upon reflection, make a good deal of sense and are often profoundly true."

But shame on me. I have been using the singular word oxymoron to refer to the plural occurrences of the phrases.
"When you have more than one oxymoron, what do you call them? The typical answer, of course, is oxymorons. But, technically, that would be wrong. The correct plural form of the word is oxymora.... If you want to be precise, oxymora is the word to use.
This is the kind of information that Oxymoronica provides. Important stuff, wot?
"[I]f you say oxymora, purists will nod approvingly, but average people may think you're a pretentious show-off. It's a judgment call.
I love this guy!

Dr. Mardy Grothe, the creator of the Web site, describes how he coined the word oxymoronica:
If erotica and exotica describe things that hold a special interest or fascination, then why not oxymoronica to refer to this special interest of mine? Just like that, a new word was born.
Yes, why not?

So, if you are like me, proclaim your love of oxymora with proud humility. Speak clearly ambiguous phrases, such as "Be careful what you wish for; it may come true," with premeditated spontaneity.

You never know, it may lead to planned serendipity in your life.

Who Needs Copywriters?

This is a good morning for a rant.

I'm not sure what prompted Jason Fried to write about writing for software in the "Signal vs. Noise" blog, but I always appreciate a good plug for technical writers. I agree with his point: pay attention to your writing.

I'm just not sure what prompted him to call it copywriting.

To me, copywriting is what marketeers do, and it involves words like scalable and cross-platform and verticals. Writers write. Marketeers write copy. I'm not the only one who thinks this.

I'm not sure why I'm so cranky about the term CopyWriting. I guess I think it's just overdone. The word Writing gets the point across, doesn't it? What more do you communicate by adding Copy to it? What else might I be writing? Dishes? DishWriting. As Jason notes, you should not use seven words when four will do. I add: don't use a double word, when the single one will do: writing, not copywriting.

CopyWriting seems like a wiki word to me. I'm cranky about them too.

So, despite my ranting, I urge you to do as he means, not as he says. Do not skimp on writing or writers. Pay attention to writing. It's an important part of the UX.

Allen -- visualizing interactive supply-chains leveraging world-class deliverables
um, and working as a writer. Need one?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Beethoven Symphonies for Free

I got another tidbit from the Keith Soltys' Core Dump blog: the BBC is putting recent recordings of the 9 Beethoven symphonies online for downloading for free.

Downloading music is not one of my core competencies. I don't have an IPod or other cool storage device. I'm lame enough to use the Windows Media Player for online broadcasts.

Downloadable classical music could change that for me. Especially if its stuff that's not available otherwise and is in the public domain.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

On the 7th Day, God Created the Primate Discovery Center

Part three of an irregular series

The story so far: As I mentioned in my This Day in History: Scopes Indicted post, zoo owners benefitted from the hype from the Trial of the Century. More recently, a monkey prayed at a Hindu temple in India, showing that religion can benefit from zoo tenants.

Now we've gone full circle. According to CNN, The Tulsa Zoo will add a display featuring the biblical account of creation. To me, this shows the brilliance of the anti-evolutionists. They are going to where the monkeys live to recruit them as PR fronts.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Like a Consultant for the Very First Time

Like Madonna, I have to reinvent myself.

OK, so I don't have quite the mass appeal that Madonna does, I don't live in the UK, I don't have piles of money, and I'm not from Michigan. But I am 46 and so is she. And people don't buy everything I have to sell, just as they don't for Madonna. Or so she says.

So, Madonna and I have to work at it. Her? She's pushing another children's book, her fifth in the last three years. Me? I'm taking a stab at consulting, my second in the last two years.

By the way, some call us contractors. We, in the biz, prefer "consultant." We don't charge as much as contractors.

So I'm out there beating the bushes, marketing myself, trying to get people to pay attention to what I have to offer and to buy it. So is Madonna.

It makes me feel better to know that she has to work too.

Friday, June 03, 2005

It's Not My Job, Dude

The June 2005 issue of Communications of the ACM has an article called "IT professionals as organizational citizens."

Not a catchy title, but there was a reference to Dilbert, so I read it.

Bottom line, while doctors are taught to "do no harm," those working in information technology are conditioned to get their own work done, but help others on their own time.

Is the Help Desk Helpful?
The first concept here is that there are certain organizational citizenship behaviors that help the company work well. These "OCBs" are "workplace behaviors that promote effective organizational functioning but are... not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system."

(There had to be a three letter abbreviation here;
after all, this is a scholarly journal.)

The finding is that folks working in information technology were not as helpful to their co-workers than their colleagues in non-IT areas of the companies.

I Don't Get No Respect
It appears that when people think that their company is fair to them, they are more likely to play nicely with others. It probably comes as no surprise to those who work in IT, who who read Dilbert, that IT workers don't have so much trust in their supervisors or confidence in the fairness of their companies. Instead of practicing OCBs, folks think more in economic exchanges: what's it worth to me?

With Truth and Justice for All
I like the idea of organizational citizenship. I want to get along well with others while helping the company succeed. After all, people are more interesting than the work. But then, I'm not a typical IT worker; I have a nice supervisor.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Late Bloomers Rejoice

As a geek, I'm required to read Slashdot. Today, I read a posting that made my much-older-than-20-year-old heart swell. Inventors are older than they used to be.

Weebles are Not Fisher Price

My wife and I have been fighting over preschool toys on this dreary Sunday before Memorial Day.

I thought Weebles and Fisher Price were one and the same. Myfanwy knew otherwise. This, in itself is not unusual. It's also not unusual that I've gotten my childhood completely wrong. My youngest sister had the Little People from FP and I thought they were weebles.

I think my bad memory makes me a better writer. Who needs reality? What say you?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Who Was That Vermilion Monkey?

Just a followup to my Scopes trial post from May 25:

Today the Boston Globe ran an editorial on stemming the evolution of intelligent design. Like killer bees, the anti-evolutionists are coming closer. The Globe writes that "The theory is itself spreading like an evolving virus" and urge informed voters to run the bums out of town.

At the same time, in India, a monkey appeared at a Hindu temple, and completely followed protocol by praying with folded hands then putting vermilion on its forehead.

I reported earlier that zoo attendance went up 50% after the Scopes trial, and I wondered if church attendance would go up similarly after a new trial by the anti-evolutionists. However, now I realize that temple attendance is rising, driven by potential zoo inhabitants.