Friday, May 30, 2008

Me Rite pretty To-day

One impetus for starting this blog was a desire to sharpen my writing skills and combat the inevitable decline that occurs when making the transition from college to the work environment. College professors at Mary Washington, and I should hope most institutions of higher education, required demanded their students to produce well written papers; eloquent, thought-provoking, interesting, and sometimes controversial. A few of the better professors challenged students to take our own opinions and explore other perspectives in writing, a technique often used when preparing for a debate. Writing on a topic of personal passion is easier than penning a viewpoint that opposes that passion, compelling a person to choose their words and delivery method wisely. These exercises tested not only our journalistic skills but our very belief system, creating avenues for personal philosophical debates and sharpening of our thought processes. Business writing utilizes some of these developed skills, but does not require nearly the same eloquence or allow for ample time to get the point across. While my days of 15 page papers might be long gone, there is still some skill needed to produce PowerPoint bullets that have a point and prove that point; even when you do not agree with the point. After acknowledging that business writing presented a different set of challenges than academic writing, I began my quest to write like a college student and am happy to report that the success of the endeavor.

According to the “Blog Readability Test,” a service that analyzes blog pages to determine what level of education is needed to read the site, Explosive Bombchelle is written at the college reading level.
blog readability test

This means I can still use words like a college student! Most of my work writing is geared at communicating to executives and colleagues who could certainly read at a college level, but do not have the time to devote to that level of reading. Others I work with utilize readability services and consultants that help gear their writing to the general populace and adhere to US government regulations and plain language laws. It is not uncommon for graduates to struggle with maintaining all the knowledge and writing skills developed in school. A good writer, like a good athlete, needs to strengthen their skills through hard work and practice. Even those who write for a living must find it difficult to maintain the same skill level they once possessed in school. Writing for a college professor is much more difficult than writing for any given publication; the New York Times and Washington Post maintain a High School reading level, Sports Illustrated is written at a Junior High Level. The government maintains that Medicare and Medicaid mailings should read at the Fifth Grade level yet the Internal Revenue Service Code is written beyond college reading level, go figure.

In conclusion, writing this blog has allowed me to:
  • Sharpen my writing skills.
  • Maintain my college level vocabulary.
  • Explore my thoughts and opinions.
  • Understand and analyze the opinions of others.

Bullets… just in case you required an Executive Summary.

Many thanks to Stepher for posting the Blog Readability Test.
Amendment to original post:
In response to my cousin Drew’s comment regarding the readability of the US Constitution, I had no choice but to see what the Blog Readability Test had to say about our founding fathers’ writing:
blog readability test

Very humbling...


S2 said...

Very well written. Concise. Clean. Nicely edited. A+

I often wish I wrote better.

I recently looked over my old college papers and made faces when I came across egregious errors that I'm afraid I still make.

One of my English professors deducted points if we used the word "very." He said it was a non-word.

We also weren't allowed to use the word "but" b/c he said it discounted everything in the sentence written before the word.

I remember him as a v. strange man, but he was quite entertaining!

husband said...

actually, I think "very" is a perfectly cromulent word. It's needed to add extra emphasis (just in the same way "extra" was needed just there). It conveys above and beyond the normal level.

He was a strange man
He was a very strange man

I think those two sentences convey two different thoughts on the man.

and as for this websites rating... well it's obvious that you went to college and make a lot of money... :-)

Drew said...

You can't compare the IRS code with Medicare and Medicaid mailings. You're talking about statutory/codified law vs. consumer orientated information. It's apples and oranges.

By all means, feel free to compare:

Title XVIII Part B - Sec. 1833. [42 U.S.C. 1395l] of the Social Security Act


Title XXVI Subtitle C - Chapter 24 § 3402 IRS Code

Otherwise, filling out a 1040-EZ is probably the equivalent of a 4th grade math word problem and about as easy for a Senior, doped up on their Oxycontin, to read as their latest Medicare pamphlet

I'd be curious to know what level the constitution is written in.

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Drew (et. al.)- amendment added to the post for your reading pleasure.

Nursedude said...

Hi Chelle, I would add that the Blogosphere is just a great way to meet some interesting and really nice people-or in my case, keep up with friends and former coworkers!

Nursedude said...

And also reading some very thought provoking essays...