Monday, June 24, 2013

Getting Up to Speed

Life moves pretty fast. 
If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Ferris Bueller told me that, in 1986. Back then, one had to be concerned with minutes turning into hours, hours turning into days, days turning into weeks. How quaint. In today's world, every second counts. We judge life's successes in terms of kilobits per second or, if you're lucky, megabits per second. It's all about disseminating and receiving info in the Internet age. I'm one of the stragglers who still prefer a brick-and-mortar business to an e-commerce site and a real book — creased cover, yellowing pages and all — to a Nook or Kindle, so life does seem to be moving too fast for me. Spell check probably feels the same way.

Hundreds of thousands of words exist in the English language — some scholars put the number at more than a million — and new ones are added daily. That's a lot of material for spell check to, well, check. I must say, it does a pretty good job ... though it has yet to master incorrect homophone usage. (See here.) And it's nowhere near figuring out how to stay up to date when it comes to the strange terms dotting the social media landscape at an ever-increasing pace. URLs, domain names, hashtags, usernames, blog titles, permalinks... What is spell check to do?

Not much, which is why it's up to editors and proofreaders to be vigilant when presented with, say, web addresses in an article. In this particular USA Today article, the domain name is listed correctly in the headline, yet an extra s has sneaked its way into the first reference within the story. I wouldn't let the writer go because of this oversight, but I would ask him to be master of his domain references from this point forward.

Life is infinitely faster than it was 27 years ago, when Ferris was dining at Chez Quis, attending a game at Wrigley Field and twisting and shouting on Dearborn Street. It's moving at the speed of light, in fact, yet we're always in search of "faster speeds" and "higher speeds." It's a "bit" much, no?

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