Random thought: text, sarcasm and bludgeons

November 1, 2007

Written communication is fraught with danger. Poor spelling. Bad grammar. Mixed metaphors. Double negatives. OVER-CAPITALIZATION AND GRATUITOUS USE OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!

The pitfalls are legion.

When writing informally (as in an email or blog post) I find a tendency to write the way that I talk, or at least the way that I read the text in my head. However as text is inherently unable to convey conversational tone or nuance, this isn’t always successful as I might like.

Undetected sarcasm for instance, can lead to all kinds of misunderstandings, angst and recriminations. Sometimes it can lead to being slapped about the head with an inflatable christmas tree. Or maybe that’s just me.

But I see an answer. Rather than using potentially ambiguous characters and markups, imagine how useful it would be if there were actual font formatting styles to denote written intonation. Like a special kind of reverse italics or something to denote sarcasm. Or anger. False enthusiasm. Repressed loathing.

And of course, Please Don’t Hit Me With a Plastic Tree.

Or maybe that’s just me again.


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