NOTICE: Posting schedule is irregular. I hope to get back to a regular schedule as the day-job allows.

Friday, May 4, 2012

COMMENT: On Blogging [Full link to blog for email clients.]

From "", copyright Shoebox 2012
OK, so I'm not sure where Sarah Hoyt got this cartoon (  The link says "" and from my perusal of the site, it appears to be linked to the Hallmark "Shoebox" line of cards.  The character names are "Chuck and Beans."  My apologies for not naming the artist, but if a reader knows who it is, thank them for me.

So, I did that for three reasons:

One, is that of course when blogging and linking stuff on the internet we should always attempt to make sure that the originator gets credit.  Ultimately we all want to make sure that if someone else finds our work interesting, they'll know who originated it.

Second is that sometimes I feel this way (as in the cartoon), until I make a mistake.  This blog does not get many comments.  I know that part of the reason is that some folks can't log in to leave a comment, it's one reason I am migrating the blog.  On the other hand, this blog is actually pushed to four venues: here at Blogger, on Facebook via NetworkedBlogs, to Baen's Bar via email, and to The Revenge of Hump Day via email (although which blogs get posted there are up to Uncle Timmy's discretion).   What I find interesting is that when I *do* make a mistake or have a topic that draws comments, I am amazed and flattered when the comment is posted in one of those venues by someone new, that I was unaware read this blog.  Also, since the topics here are not typically "discussions" I probably won't get too many comments, and when I do, they are spread over the aforementioned four venues.

Third and finally, is that I wanted to comment on the discussion at Sarah's Facebook post.  There have been comments both for and against applying a "professional" level of the copyediting to blogs.  Sarah says she will do her best, but it takes time and is not paying work (see the blog).  A commenter says that they have enough OCD to be bothered by typos, but are usually polite enough to let it pass.  Another poster says that *not* applying "professional" level quality control even to free or "casual" content is insulting to the reader.

My own personal position is that "professional" level copyediting is not a one-person job.  Every professional publication is reviewed by 2-3 sets of eyes: including writer, editor and copyeditor.  When I write a manuscript for a scientific journal, it gets read by myself and one other professor at a minimum, then sent to an editor who sends it to at least two reviewers.  Upon acceptance, the manuscript *should* be sent to a copyeditor.  Unfortunately, in science, the editors and reviewers typically do not read at the copyediting level and many journals are skimping on the copyediting stage and feeding the manuscript files directly into typesetting programs or requesting "camera-ready" copy form the authors.  Yes, this is a flaw in science publishing.  See my previous blog for more discussion on the issues with "style" of scientific writing. 

Professional fiction and nonfiction writing *does* still have those copyediting steps in place, however, and again I stress that the the process usually involves at least three people:  the author who writes, then spends a fair amount of time reviewing, the editor who is (ideally) obligated to read the item at least once, and the copyeditor(s) who are charged with finding the typos.  Reviewing blog posts, let alone Facebook comments, is extremely difficult, since are visual systems are just *NOT* geared to detailed inspection of something we generated ourselves.  The visual cortex make register fine detail, but the association cortex and speech/language centers interpret data in chunks, and the more familiar the data, the broader and less specific the chunks (see how I worked some brain science in there?).  I know very well how hard it is to find my own typos, which is why my scientific papers are read by at least one other professor before submission. 

Blogging also takes time, which is why I am stuck on 2-3 posts a week.  Each blog takes me about an hour, particularly The Lab Rats' Guide to the Brain posts which require research and fact-checking.  That's just the writing.  Frankly, it is worse when dictating using Dragon because if I talk as fast as I think, there would be too many transcription mistakes and they end up too far back in the text to be easily found.  Instead I have to mentally compose the phrases first, which does not come naturally although I am learning.  My day job consists of about 7-8 hours in the office and lab.  Each day starts with about an hour at home handling correspondence and "putting out fires" by email and phone.  Each evening requires about 2 hours of the same, plus another 2 hours to write - including journal articles, grants, fiction and my blog.  I have colleagues 5 hours ahead of me, 3 hours behind me, and a (local) associate with insomnia that works from 4-6 AM every day.  I have to answer emails from 8 AM until midnight most days.  Weekends typically involve 5-6 hours of writing a day, not to mention email correspondence.

So yes, this blog is less professional than what I do for work or potentially for payment.  Sorry about that, but I would submit that if you - as a reader - are more put off by the typos than the content, then the content is not all that interesting to you.  That may be the fault of the author, they just aren't that good; or it may be the fault of the reader, you just aren't interested.  Either way, move on and hope that you find something that *does* catch your interest.  Meanwhile, we bloggers will keep doing what we can in the time we have, in hopes that you are interested in what we have to say. So maybe cut us a little slack in the copyediting department!

It also doesn't hurt to post a comment once in a while to let us know you are there.


  1. My luck if I found a typo, I'd include a typo in my post commenting on it. [Wink]

    Drak Bibliophile

  2. Then there are people like me who won't notice if you break some obscure rule of grammar. You have to completely break the train of thought and leave it on its side, off the track and smoldering before we notice.


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