Tech Savvyness Is Not a Reader Prerequisite
7-24-09: Initial release.
7-25-09: Minor edits.
As I reflect on the history of this blog, I have to admit that a lot of my articles here are fairly technical. Whether it is about modding your game console, doing a specific task on the computer, or making your favorite game work online, there are a lot of technical details you have to know during the process.
I am a big blog reader. I am a huge fan of lifehacker.com and makeuseof.com In fact, they are part of my daily soup and butter, along with digg.com just to keep up with the hippest items on the Internet. It can be very easy for someone to write a lot of “jargon” and technical details in a very non-concise manner and it just leaves the user (in this case, novices) left scratching their head. This equals frustration, confusion, and the worst part of all …. no positive results.
Trust me, I have been there. I have read guides where I just wanted to scream because it was so difficult to read or understand. When I finally understood what to do, I go “God, why couldn’t he write it this way?”
I am very lucky to grow up being an avid reader and writer. One of the main traits I value is my writing abilities, as it has scored me many scholarships, as well as job applications. It makes communication just plain easier. I think in terms of readability and understandability. There are guides on this blog that I literally spent hours upon hours just reading it over and over to get it right.
You want a good example? Please check out this article post on USB games for the PS2. Even for a non-gamer, I hope you can appreciate the thoughtfulness and the attention to detail to make that guide (and the video) what they are today.
It has an introduction, a middle, and an end. It makes appropriate use of pictures to explain the text, as well as colors and headings. Now compare that style of writing to the COD5 guide at the blog. COD5 Guide
Now I don’t want to get on a rant on another person’s writing ability. All I want to say is that you notice the drastic differences in writing, right? Writing reveals a certain style, a certain personality. If I had COD5, I would write it in a totally different manner. This I can assure you.
Really, how do you do it?
Writing for such a wide audience of different levels?
Oh, that is what you meant. In my digital journey, I have met people of all ages, male and female, young as 12 to as old as 50 asking me questions or giving me comments on the stuff we do here at the blog. I am a fairly techy guy, but I know a lot of you guys are not. I talk to some people who are 14 and their perspective is very much warranted because I throw out terms that they don’t understand, so it forces me to re-evaluate how to send out my message.
Writing on the blog is the same thing. I hate to say that I write my tutorials in such a way that your Mom could figure out what to do, because that is way too simplistic. If a mother was here reading one of the tech tutorials, she would go…ok, that was nice of you but how is this legal again? >_>
Honestly, I was surprised when a real mother came here and thanked me because now she had the power to understand how to backup her children’s PS2 games. Now thats awesome!
All jokes aside, I try to write in a down to earth manner. I don’t expect my users to be on the same level as me, and I try to write in very plain English when I can. If I have to throw out a technical term, I try to explain it, or better yet, try to give out examples for more of the more involved procedures. If you are familiar with my timeless patching video for L4D, you will find out what I am talking about.
You can see that great video here.
The only problem is that because I have setup an indirect style of writing, it has created other minor problems.
What problems? You seem to be doing great!
Thanks for the lift me up, but here is the problem. From time to time we get some enthusiastic people that want to join the team, or at the very least, contribute an article here and there. I can see the sparkle in their eyes. They are here to get something off their chest and to make a difference, right? Well, they write what they want to do, and then they just disappear.
As I mentioned in my previous article (located here), its tough doing this job myself. When people leave, am I surprised? Not really. They have life commitments. Perhaps the novelty factor wore down, or they realized they suck at writing. Whatever the case maybe, its part of what I call the “Underground Virus”. It happens to the best of us. Things become more important and you got to do what you got to do. Because the blog is my creation, and now with Voltaire as co-author, it has given more direction to my life, and perhaps yours too.
Is that really the problem why people don’t want to contribute to the blog?
Actually, its much simpler that you think as to why people don’t really contribute to this blog. Hail put it very well in a previous comment and I will paraphrase it here. You may have a great idea, but because of the lack of experience in your writing skills, it takes you a very long time to articulate an idea in text, let alone format and have it written in an understandable manner. Because of this fear, people don’t write. Either that, or they don’t have a good idea to write about here.
Do realize at the time of writing this sentence, I have spent approximately 40 minutes on this post. For someone else who tried to write what I did right now, it would have taken them easily 2 hours or more. Get my drift? It could very well be that their first draft of their post would be very broken and not flowing in a relatively logical matter.
Can I help them fix it? Almost. I always tell people to don’t worry about the format. Just write the content, and I’ll fix it (which I have painstakingly done two or three times already) to help it make it great. Want an example? Check out this post here:
It was written by Hail, but polished by me per Hail’s request. However, people don’t want to write. They don’t want to feel like they let me down, and so they don’t write. They have a really awesome guide on how to deflate the tire on that person’s car they really hate because that guy cheated on his girlfriend, but they won’t write it.
They do not want to be embarrassed, and they don’t want me to give them guidance or change their article for fear that their identity or “ownership” of the article is dismantled or taken away from them.
*Gasp* Would you really try to steal their identity?
Not at all. I don’t have time for that, and I don’t want to steal anybody’s idea. I want people to be who they are , and express whatever they want without my intervention. If they want my help, all right and if they don’t that is fine with me. By having you write, you are indirectly feeling good about yourself, and making a difference here too whether you know it or not. It’s all about perspective, right?
The best part is if someone sends me an article, at the very least, I want that person to sign up a wordpress account and post it on the blog. If I edit it, it will still show up as under your name. Heck, I can make it all nice and pretty and people will see its written by person XYZ and they get all the glory. That is perfectly fine with me. The only reason I don’t edit the COD5 article is because I want people to see how great of a guide it is. *coughs*
I am sort of conflicted inside already, because I didn’t want to write such a long post like this one after I had done an excellent post earlier on underground views. However, I felt it was just necessary to also get this out into the air. To let people know its OK if you have a non-tech background, and you know nothing about computers.
You could be a person of marine biology and still learn something useful here. We focus on articles besides technology such as life and morals, so even those should appeal to all kinds of people. I hope this post was entertaining and insightful. It has been for me, and it has taken me about 1 hour and 7 mintues to write this. Surprised? As a reader it may take you 5 minutes or less to read this whole article, but it took me 1 hour and 7 minutes to write it?
Perhaps I’ll write another article in the future to learn how to appreciate what you see in life. Enough, time to work on content for TUG!!!
Note: (After proofreading, reading it over and over again, and editing, the total time spent on this post is closer to 1 hour and 20 minutes.)