Justification for the Blog

The author of an Economist review of James Thurber’s collected letters laments:

One of the quiet losses of our era is the authorial correspondence. Even if contemporary writers are sufficiently vain to keep duplicates of e-mails, the form’s terse, careless conventions would likely discourage anthology.

Despite the author’s nostalgic alarmism, I agree to some extent. “Collected e-mails” would most likely not make for good reading. But Blog archives would. Here at Maddenation, most entries are well-thought-out, introspective, meditative insights into our family. When you post to the site, you write something like letter writers used to write, not some dashed-off question or “yep” reply. And the blog is archived well, by date, by author, and by category, and it also has a search engine. No doubt better systems will become available in the future too, but for now, I’m glad we have this quasi-permanent forum for sharing our lives. And I’m glad to know that I can return later to find that entry that I remember, but not verbatim, or where I can add some new thought to a topic we discussed years back.

PatrickExplanations08/28/03 7 comments


Dan • 08/28/03 11:06 AM:

i think the biggest loss that the Instant Messenger generation has brought with it is the lack of capitalization. some day, it will become unnecessary. why do we need a PeriOd, SpacE, AND a capital letter to let us know there’s a new sentence? notice, i said only 1 space. html only allows 1 space, and the ONLY reason you’re taught two spaces (i may be a little off with this) is because old typewriters spaces weren’t big enough so you had to put in two. but there’s no need for 2 spaces. if you can’t figure out a new sentence with only 1 space, you should stop reading or become illiterate. or both. of course capitalization is necessary for other things, like proper nouns, but what else?

i think the newest “generation” should be called “INSTANT GENERATION”. have it trademarked by AOL or something just to keep par for the course.

David • 08/28/03 2:54 PM:

Although I don’t always capitalize on emails, I still think it’s a good idea. Just take a look at your entry, dan. It’s far LESS readable than the entry made by Pat that’s on the window behind this little one (using capital letters). You’ve often talked about readability - with relation to fonts and designs, so why not realize that not capitalizing the first word in a sentence works against readability and smoothness and ease. It makes it blur together as if one huge sentence. Seriously, take a look for yourself. And then, as Phil Collins sang, “Take a Good Look at Yourself”.


Patrick • 08/28/03 4:37 PM:

It’s nonsense that typewriters’ spaces weren’t big enough. It was just convention to use one space between words, two spaces between sentences, in a sort of hierarchy. Word processors are supposed to adjust spacing between sentences automatically (when they’re using proportional fonts, which they usually are), so you’re supposed to just use one space when you’re writing on a computer. No big deal, really. But I do think that capital letters convey meaning (and more than just “beginning of sentence,” though that’s one important thing). Capital letters may not be strictly necessary, but they’re important. Correct spelling and grammar are not strictly necessary either, if your only goal is communication. You might try grunting and beating the wall with a stick too. And I don’t know if capital letters will whether this onslaught from the barbaric hordes of under-educated, MP3-downloading, its/it’s-confusing youth, but English is a language created by barbarians, so I think it will all come out okay. Me, I’ll keep on trying to use it well, to romance it, to understand its nuances and rules so I can not only communicate, but move with words, so I can influence, inspire, and sometimes deal severe blows of intellectual force.

Patrick • 08/28/03 4:41 PM:

Phil Collins also sang, “Take a look at me now.” While L L Cool J sang, “How you like me now?” By the way, our cable magazine lists the main actors in the movies they’re showing, and for one movie they had “Cool J, L” listed. I thought that was funny. I haven’t yet found an entry for “T, Ice,” nor for his brothers “Cube, Ice” and “T, Mr.” And shouldn’t it be “Iced” T? Somebody should tell him.

Dad • 08/28/03 11:16 PM:

I too like to use correct English, but one has to be flexible. For example, we appear to have lost “almost” as virtually everyone says, “Most all of the people there had rings in their noses.” Also, what’s up with the difference between “that” and “which?” (And should that ? go inside or outside the “?) I was taught that that was restrictive and which was non-restrictive (or something like that). So you could say, “The car that hit me had a burned out tail light.” If the tail light was just an unimportant detail, you could say, “The car, which had a burned out tail light, appeared to be heading towards Phoenix.” (Wait, maybe that was Uncle Jeff!)

Finally, why don’t people know the meaning of “presently?” Just because it sounds like “right now” doesn’t mean that’s what it means, you idiot!

In closing, I’d just like to say that “golf” is not an acronym for “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.”

Dan • 08/29/03 1:18 PM:

grunting and beating on the wall has proven most all effective.

Kool Moe Dee sings “how ya like me now”.

Phil collins does not sing ever “take a look at yourself”.

i questioned dave about this as a song title, and he grunting, beatingly, replied, “DUH! you stupid complete moron! i didn’t SAY it was the TITLE, you idiot, i said he SINGS it. GEEZ, can’t you READ??”

with that i put my head down to hide my tears.

i did not, however, tell him that phil collins doesn’t sing those words in the song “against all odds”.

i think he maybe confused phil collins with this band.

i also don’t think dave picked up on pat replying and telling him that phil collins doesn’t sing that either.

one sentence paragraphs are good for readability, aye, dave?

shouldn’t it be iced cream?

Patrick • 08/30/03 2:04 AM:

But Led Zeppelin does sing: “Why don’t you take a good look at yourself and describe what you see
And baby, baby, baby, do you like it ” in “Misty Mountain Hop,” speaking of The Lord of the Rings.

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