OK, let's just admit it. A few short weeks ago, after our third cup of eggnog, we started making New Year's resolutions. "Gonna start jogging regularly right after the New Year," we said. "Nothing but oat bran and Pilates videos for a few months." Satisfied with that pronouncement, we all knocked back a few shot glasses of gravy, secretly knowing that we'd break most of our resolutions by Groundhog Day. But hey, it's a tradition, right? So, we here at the Odd Parity Resolution and Self-Improvement Resource Center have come up with a few suggestions for those of you just now recovering from the Holiday merry-making that are guaranteed to make 2011 a year filled with advanced features and enhanced functionality.
Since we started out with food, why not resolve to keep yourself in check at the old buffet table? At many trade show events, I've seen astounding feats of food balancing on plates so tiny they could barely hold an olive. This skill is particularly useful during these economic times when trade show buffets are shrinking as fast as budgets.
Editors are especially adept at buffet management, as most journalism schools offer courses like, "Meatball stacking: cannonball style," and "The art of interlocking shrimp." If you can't cut back, let's all try to be a little more subtle. Telltale toothpicks and drink stirrers should be jettisoned as soon as possible.
Maybe you PR and marketing folks could resolve to minimize useless press releases. I know it's tempting to send out a stream of releases that say, "Acme Corp thinking about releasing the Mega-Measly OhPad," or "Acme Corp gets serious about Mega-Measly handheld!" or "Mega-Measly on the way, honest!" But why not wait until there really is a Mega-Measly? While we're on the subject, how about cutting back on the internal announcements that are trivial, like "New coffee filters arrive!"
These same rules could apply to e-mails, which often jam up the spam works and keep us from getting valuable deli updates. I'm sure many editors can match your resolutions with promises of their own. For instance, when you call and ask if we've seen the press release about your newest product, we won't sit in stunned silence like you've just asked us to explain the theory of relativity.
Here's another swell resolution. How's about cutting down on the acronyms, or at least explain the ones that haven't been around for a while. Odd Parity recently received a document that purported to define a new technology, but simply rendered us numb as we pored over a first sentence that was a staggering 52 words long and had eight undefined acronyms. Was the author reverting to his native Welsh? Was he following official CIA encryption guidelines? Who knows? Maybe the author didn't know what half of them meant, but was just passing them along because everyone else was using them. This strategy could end up snowballing until a document is so convoluted, it starts to resemble a politician's stump speech. OMG! No one wants that level of meandering doublespeak. So let's resolve to eschew obfuscation by spelling out acronyms, even if they're common parlance in the conference room.
Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year (HNY)!
By Mike Donlin.
Mike does technical, marketing and creative writing for The Write Solution, his freelance business. He can help your company wend its way through the vagaries of the English language, and prides himself on his intimate knowledge of gerunds, semicolons and dipthongs. If you'd like Mike to pen a tome on a timely technical topic, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-889-4955.