Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The value of good writing

"It's impossible to calculate the ultimate cost of lost productivity because people have to read things two and three times."

When writing is sloppy, reading is tedious, our thinking is muddled, and communications are ineffective. The vicious circle is set in motion: sloppy writing, sloppy thinking, sloppy writing.

In public office, "I read things that were absolutely incomprehensible," Kerrey said. He shudders to think how Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, published 229 years ago Monday, would have read in standard, government-worker bureaucrat-speak.

"It would be 10 times as long, one-tenth as comprehensive, and would have lacked all inspiration," Kerrey said.

Not only have I read reams of bureacrat-speak in my lifetime, in the seven years I spent in the government's employ I was encouraged to write it too. I left to pursue a career in editing.

(Even Jefferson's work was edited.)

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