Friday, November 9, 2012

What is the Collective Noun for Word Nerds?

I've been off air for a bit, taking a well earned break from blogging and from life. I had a bit of a mini-break - which was much needed and most excellent.

Saturday morning, after a bit of a drama with getting myself and my bag on the same plane, I arrived in Sydney for the annual conference of the Australian Society of Technical Communicators.

Okay, you're nodding off now...

Actually, it was brilliant. I spent a full day communing with a whole heap of people who are just like me. People who dig out double spaces from documents. People who know the difference between the passive and the active voice (What, there are people, of whom you know, who have awareness of the active voice?) People who know how to do a v-lookup, insert tables and right justify text. The folk understand the turn of a beautiful sentence and the joy of uncomplicated brevity.

I was in my element.

Just listening to the conference title is enough to put you to sleep, but for us word nerds, sessions on indexing, controlled language, diagrams, eLearning principles among other things, is manna from heaven.

Arriving late was a bit of a bummer - being bumped off my early flight to one an hour later meant I missed the first two sessions of the day. A colleague who was at both days of the conference said that I'd missed what was an excellent day of sessions on the Friday - and that these were a wonderful bunch of people.

Which they are.

Until now, I didn't know what it was like to be around a group of people with a similar skill set to my own. People who are quite happy to look a manager in the eye and say things like, "This document makes you look like a complete twat." People who get angsty when they watch others try and justify information in a table, without header lines. People who understand that comma placement is vital (i.e. Grammar - the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit.)

How do you pacify a tech writer?  Their, there, they're....

Yes, hand on heart, I enjoyed my day surrounded by fellow word nerds.

Though I wasn't happy with the answer I got to the question of what was the collective noun for Technical Communicators? You have a gaggle of geese, a murder of crows, a parliament of owls, a ponder of philosphers and a conflagration of arsonists... is it a conjunction of grammarians and a worship of writers? but what of Technical Writers - this odd band who are into things like indexing, diagrams, controlled language, wikis, version control... What is our collective noun?

After a fascinating, sometimes funny, sometimes outlandish day, I made my way back to my hotel for the night - absolutely knackered. Thankfully my hotel room had a large bath tub and a big bed to enjoy for the night.

For the next three days I spent some time mooching around a Sydney beach, drinking coffee, relaxing, reading and walking, taking in the occassional gallery and just chilling.


Four days off in a row. Brilliant.

And a selfie for you. You can tell ints me by the fork toes on my right foot.

I came back to Melbourne just as the Melbourne Cup was being run and thunderstorms were about to hit, still pondering the collective noun for technical writers.


Kath Lockett said...

I've already coined the term a 'blerk' of bloggers...

How about a 'sensible' of tech writers?

A 'Tipp Ex' of TWs?

A 'Deletion' of TWs?

River said...

A (something) of wordsmiths?
And what the heck is a V-lookup? I've never heard of it, please tell me?

"....comma placement....knowing your shit and knowing you're shit."
That's not a comma, that's an apostrophe.
Usually badly placed even more often than a comma.

Anonymous said...

Princess Pandora - Queen of Denial! Met you for the first time at the Tech Writer's conference & am now addicted to your blog... Thank you for your regular 'words of wisdom' - and for reminding us of Sinead O'Connor (I suppose?)
Yes it was great to be in the company of like-minded people at the conference and I shall give your challenging 'collective noun' question some serious thought... might take me a while though :) arrivederchi! M