Typos and proof-reading

Time for a post about… typos.

Please bear with me, I believe it does make some sort of sense in the context of this site and its overall digital theme.

I must admit my thoughts on the importance of avoiding typos and silly mistakes have changed during the past decade. Back then, ten years ago, a grammatical error was a source of shame for me. And my fear of erroneous writing could even wake me up in the middle of the night and make me go check if this and that in my latest writing was spelled correctly.

During my studies at the university I was even hired as proof-reader on Weekendavisen, a respected Danish weekly. One  of the paper’s prominent writers, Arne Hardis, gave me a small tour around the newspaper and introduced me to their way of working.

At one point, in his office, he said: “I always look up the words. It’s the only way you can make sure the language doesn’t erode. But, you know, I’m the only one in here who does that. That’s why we need someone like you. All these highly esteemed writers, they think they don’t need to. They think they’re too good to make errors. They can’t be bothered by dictionaries.”

As it turned out, he was right. And I was stunned by the amount of errors in their articles. And proud that I could help them out.

Later on, when I myself began writing for the newspaper, it was sometimes overwhelmingly difficult. Fear of failure. Vanity. Call it what you will. It was there all the time. Not to the degree that I couldn’t write. But I believe I was somehow tied up by the grammatical minefield I envisioned right there in front of me.

Then later, when moving on to become a copywriter on a digital agency, my approach changed. Now, it was no longer about my own vanity. I was not the named author. I was the machine behind the words. It became about making the texts work. To make them do their job. And in that process you get more occupied by the content and the literary effects than grammatical errors.

It also has something to do with the speed of the digital media. The online users are less patient and less demanding. They browse. They are restless. So you need to catch their attention. Not necessarily with fancy puns and wordplays, but by telling a story. It’s less wordy. It’s less grammatical correctness.

So to wrap it up, what I found within the genre of digital writing was two things: 1) A freer tone-of-voice, enabling me to “take it as it comes” and play around; 2) A shorter and stronger prose directed by a clear purpose, focusing only on what works (and not necessarily on what I like).

Getting started

… with a starting point

I ask myself: What would be interesting to know more about? What’s going on out there that I would want to know, but don’t know yet?

And so it all begins.

Social media

Let’s start with social media. I would like to know more about the social media landscape globally. I would like to get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

First, is it a phenomenon, or is it just a name for the way digital medias are organised today, i.e. user-centric? How does the social media landscape look globally? What does it mean for our lives? And what does it truly mean in terms of the way we communicate with each other? What kind of implications does it have for companies? And where are we heading?

Based on that, it would be far easier to grasp the current state of the social media phenomenon. And to come to terms with the future developments.

That being said, the digital landscapes are characterized by their ever-changing nature. New ideas and developments happen at such a high speed that we all need to filter them in order to make some sort of sense of it.

And that’s a theme by itself: Transformation. The speed of life has increased dramatically during the past decade.

Storytelling

Eternal acceleration is of course not a universal truth. Take the area of storytelling, for example. Here, the good old discipline of telling a story that’s engaging, beautiful, erotic, humorous, exciting, scary, surprising, empathetic etc. is as promising and necessary as ever. Even though the possibilities and premises for telling a story has changed with the availability of new digital medias, techniques, equipment and ways of communicating.

So there’s still plenty to explore within the storyteller’s field.

For example: What is the key to successful online storytelling? What can we hope to achieve by telling a story? Has the anatomy of storytelling changed? Is it changing all the time, or will “the good story” remain forever young?

The answer to some of the latter questions might seem obvious, to some. And to me, I think.

But closure is a thing of the past. Today, we need to re-open all the thoughts and notions we have on a specific topic. It must change. And it does.

Maybe that’s one of the biggest achievements of the digital world. That it has emphasized the fact that nothing is dead.

We inhabit a world full of both opportunity and risk. It’s wide open.

Maybe Heidegger was right after all?

Research. Insights. Reflections. Ideas.

About “The Digital Blueprint”

This site is meant as a place where I can accumulate and keep track of my work with communications in the digital age.

It’s a well-known fact that we need to filter, process, reflect and not least articulate in order to make the most of what we experience. Or as David Bowie states in the song “Fantastic Voyage” from his album Lodger (1979): “I got to write it down, but I’m still being educated.” I would re-phrase that and say “because we’re being educated every day.”

So what, more specifically, is it that I’m writing down on this site?

Broadly speaking, it’s research, insights, reflections and ideas regarding the ever-changing digital landscapes that most of us are somehow trying to manoeuvre our way through on a daily basis.

For me, it’s also an integral part of my daily job as chief copywriter on a medium-sized digital agency in Copenhagen, Denmark. A job that’s basically about providing strategy, concept and content (copy, film) for the various digital communication channels, e.g. social media, websites and apps.

To see my LinkedIn profile, click here.

Jonathan Wichmann, August 2011