I’m guilty too. Let’s get that out of the wya right now. In the last decade or so, there’s been a great outbreak of writing. Along with the explosive growth of the internet, the glut of blogging, advertising and articles on most evry imaginable subject was bound to happen. It’s a double edged sword. With every increase in quantity, there’s an equally inevitable inverse increase in quality. (That was a backhanded way of syaing it, no?) There’s a reason for it too.
Huge increases in quantity means less investment in time, effort, attention, care, you name it, it’s getting diluted. Hurried, multi-distracted, split-attention naturally results in a flush of mistakes overlooked, bypassed, and with shrugged shoulders, dismissed. It’s just a typo.
There’s hardly a single page of text on any website, especially blogs, that hasn’t at least one error, usually typographical, sometimes grammatical, and mostly obvious. That is, obvious to everyone except the author. There’s a reason for this too.
As the author, one knwos one’s intention. It’s too easy to let a typo slip by if the author proofreads. That’s why there are professional editors. It takes an outsider. One who isn’t familiar with the text doesn’t already know what the aurthor is trying to say or meant to type. The mistakes jump out—most of the time.
I can’t tell you how many times I reread, proofread, re-proofread, edit and re-edte my writing. And I always allow time to pass between writing and proofing. And still I find errors. And sometimes months later, after the piece has been published I still find errors. Proof that one cannot do one’s own proofreading and editing. But I’m a one person operation. I haven’t an editor. And I haven’t an excuse, becase I could let someone at least proofread my final drafts. Mea culpa.
The most inexcusable, and by that token the worst offenders, are the major, national news organizations who have the resources to have there articles proofed and edited. But they are not doing it. There may be fewer typos in their publications, but I’m stillleft incredulous at the frequency of errors. It’s obvious that the authors are doin g their own proofreading. It’s lazy and cheap.
On this post, I have deliberately left in errors, and although I will proofread it, I will leave it unedited and unrevised. Some would normally have been corrected on the first draft simply because the automatic spell checkers underlines the word with a bright red squiggly line. It makes be wonder how these errors get past anyone. Homonyms don’t get caught by the computer—yet. Grammar is supposed to be checked on the fly too, but that doesn’t take into account readability or intelligibility, and it are not very reliable. (Didn’t catch that glaring example.)
We all make mistakes, and no matter how careful something always falls through the cracks. But it’s a matter of degree. I’ve come to the conclusion that publications with an error on their front page or several errors scattered through most pages, posts, articles or other sections are not worth reading. If the authors or owners don’t care enough to double check their copy and keep the errors to a bare minimum, they obviously don’t care much about anything.
But ya know, typos aren’t the half of it. The biggest failure is content. In addition to all the mistakes, the content is horrendously vacuous, or incomplete, or with poorly examined thought processes, and idiotic opinions. We get worthless content and typos—two for the price of one. And google don’t know the difference between good content and crap. Ya know, if the content were worth a bag a beans, perhaps the typos could be partially overlooked.
p.s. Since writing this, some months ago, the problem seems to be growing. Every book I’ve read published in the last couple of years has multiple errors. I’ve also been reading a legal blog that consistently and predictably contains a minimum of three errors per blog. Imagine lawyers, known for their hypercritical precision with words, allowing articles to be published with silly goofs. In the book category, the all time winner so far, published in 2013, has at least fourteen errors, two on one page. I just got a box set of CDs which has a thick booklet of liner notes littered with mistakes, so many I didn’t bother to keep count. And there’s more than typographical or grammatical errors slipping by. A book published last year by a well respected university press has at least two typos—one missing word, one double word, however, there are more egregious errors than grammatical. There were technical errors. In a very feeble and opaque attempt to explain additive and subtractive color, the author presents a couple of outright wrong facts followed by more baffling and misleading information. How he got his facts so twisted, why he didn’t double check his facts, and how these errors passed through the entire publishing process of an ivy league university press is bewildering. And that’s not all. A good friend of mine, an artist, just gave me a beautiful book of her work that she produced for promotional purposes. It has four contributing essayists. All four essays are riddled with typographical and punctuation errors; basic, obvious mistakes any high schooler could correct. The editor was one of the contributors. Her qualifications? A Ph.D., no less, in philosophy of art. I can’t help repeating, a Ph.D., no less. Licenses are revocable, degrees should be too.
p.p.s. Saved myself a ton of time by not editing and revising this post. Rereading it drove me wild with the urge to fix the mistakes and rephrase for clarity.