The other side

April 17th, 2009

Look at the jibberish I just wrote in my day job:

public void doTransform(ITransformer Transformer) throws ParseException{

  if(_join != null) _join.doTransform(Transformer);
  Transformer.doSource(this);
  _node.doTransform(Transformer);
  if(_condition != null)
  {
    Transformer.doBeforeCondition(_condition);
    _condition.doTransform(Transformer);
    Transformer.doAfterCondition(_condition);
  }
  _next.doTransform(Transformer);
}

That’s the other side of what I do. Is it any wonder that I retreat to writing stories after hours? Makes me feel human again.

Actually, it’s not really jibberish. It’s just a language, called ‘Java’ instead of ‘English’. Its syntax and grammar are suited to communicating with a machine, rather than a person. I used to think that machines were less forgiving than people about incorrect syntax and grammar, but after hearing opinions on writing from beta readers, editors, and authors, it’s clear they can get more heated about grammar than a machine can.

Machines tell you where to get of if they don’t understand the meaning. And even if they do it, and get it wrong, they resort to the child-like refrain of “I only did what you told me to!”

With writers (and readers) it can be less clear what’s acceptable. For people it becomes about a third, softer issue called style. Sometimes those opinions become personal doctrines: “Though shalt remove all adverbs and adjectives.”

Programmers too can get doctrinal about choices in writing code. The bits that the machine really doesn’t care about become grounds for many a heated debate about coding style and readability: “Thou shalt have a comment line for every procedure.”

Languages differ, but people remain the same in any profession – the same in that they differ. The trick is to always look at it from the other side too. The other persons view. You don’t have to agree with them, but as a writer you are obliged to understand them. Surely no one would argue with that!

I think I need to sit down in a darkened room this weekend and write some prose for a while!

Entry Filed under: Observation & Musing,Science & Technology

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