Cometmaker

Better technical writing and presentations

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Practice is the most effective way to learn how to clarify a purpose, analyze your audience, define key messages and determine the best way to say what you mean. Penn State's site is useful for self-editing existing material. Note the links to examples in various fields. The Craft of Scientific Presentations contains perennially helpful advice to communicate effectively with individuals whose choices of complex and risky work should be based on technical comprehension under abnormally stressful circumstances rather than whatever else may seem easier.

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Practice is the most effective way to learn how to clarify a purpose, analyze your audience, define key messages and determine the best way to say what you mean. Penn State's site is useful for self-editing existing material. Note the links to examples in various fields. The Craft of Scientific Presentations contains perennially helpful advice to communicate effectively with individuals whose choices of complex and risky work should be based on technical comprehension under abnormally stressful circumstances rather than whatever else may seem easier.

I visited the sites you linked. I couldn't see anything but the Table of Contents on the "Craft" site, but I am reading the first one, Penn State, with great interest! Thanks so much for putting this up.

How is this thread meant to go? I write and edit for business, and two of my special interests are analyzing forms for efficiency, and useability in technical writing. Are those discussions you would like to pursue?

Mindy

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[...] perennially helpful advice to communicate effectively with individuals whose choices of complex and risky work should be based on technical comprehension under abnormally stressful circumstances rather than whatever else may seem easier.

Duh?

This is just the kind of word salad I have to untangle in my day job.

Care to untangle it yourself?

What do you mean?

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[...] perennially helpful advice to communicate effectively with individuals whose choices of complex and risky work should be based on technical comprehension under abnormally stressful circumstances rather than whatever else may seem easier.

Duh?

This is just the kind of word salad I have to untangle in my day job.

Care to untangle it yourself?

What do you mean?

la Zafada has a point! I didn't find it incomprehensible, but it took effort.

Mindy

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la Zafada has a point! I didn't find it incomprehensible, but it took effort.

Mindy

I have always struggled with Cometmaker's writing. Skill in writing will reduce ideas to an accurate and digestible form. That work should not be placed on the reader. "Can I say this in a simpler or clearer way?" should always be be a consideration in writing. Perhaps a start is communication with children, because their comprehension is limited.

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"Can I say this in a simpler or clearer way?" should always be be a consideration in writing. Perhaps a start is communication with children, because their comprehension is limited.

When my son was very young, it was a great exercise in the process of reduction to explain, in terms he could understand, the reasons why I wanted him to do or not do certain things. It required me to take conclusions I had formed so long ago that they seemed self-evident and go back to concrete observations to justify them.

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Duh?

This is just the kind of word salad I have to untangle in my day job.

Care to untangle it yourself?

What do you mean?

The Craft of Scientific Presentations (see link above for contents) contains good advice on how to present technical subjects in stressful circumstances.

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I have always struggled with Cometmaker's writing. Skill in writing will reduce ideas to an accurate and digestible form. That work should not be placed on the reader. "Can I say this in a simpler or clearer way?" should always be be a consideration in writing. Perhaps a start is communication with children, because their comprehension is limited.
I had considered my writing to be appropriate for a public board with the majority of readers age 16 and up. I will keep your feedback in mind.

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I have always struggled with Cometmaker's writing. Skill in writing will reduce ideas to an accurate and digestible form. That work should not be placed on the reader. "Can I say this in a simpler or clearer way?" should always be be a consideration in writing. Perhaps a start is communication with children, because their comprehension is limited.
I had considered my writing to be appropriate for a public board with the majority of readers age 16 and up. I will keep your feedback in mind.

This isn't a response to the preceding, but something I thought would be of interest here. Here is a perfectly grammatical and meaningful statement:" The apparatus includes a frame, a rotatable receiving means mounted on the frame, means for separating the bundles of sheets being received, and means for rotating the rotatable receiving means." (patent # 4,700,939 in case you want to check)

That last, "means for rotating the rotatable receiving means," is a mouthful. This example of repeated uses, in close proximity, of the same term for different specific parts of a device illustrates the versatility of grammar. Here's a little test: how many different means are referred to in the sentence?

Language is such an achievement! How few of us live up to it.

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This isn't a response to the preceding, but something I thought would be of interest here. Here is a perfectly grammatical and meaningful statement:" The apparatus includes a frame, a rotatable receiving means mounted on the frame, means for separating the bundles of sheets being received, and means for rotating the rotatable receiving means." (patent # 4,700,939 in case you want to check)

That last, "means for rotating the rotatable receiving means," is a mouthful. This example of repeated uses, in close proximity, of the same term for different specific parts of a device illustrates the versatility of grammar. Here's a little test: how many different means are referred to in the sentence?

Language is such an achievement! How few of us live up to it.

Let me see. There is a receiving means, also the means for rotating it, along with a means for separating bundles. I make that three.

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This isn't a response to the preceding, but something I thought would be of interest here. Here is a perfectly grammatical and meaningful statement:" The apparatus includes a frame, a rotatable receiving means mounted on the frame, means for separating the bundles of sheets being received, and means for rotating the rotatable receiving means." (patent # 4,700,939 in case you want to check)

That last, "means for rotating the rotatable receiving means," is a mouthful. This example of repeated uses, in close proximity, of the same term for different specific parts of a device illustrates the versatility of grammar. Here's a little test: how many different means are referred to in the sentence?

Language is such an achievement! How few of us live up to it.

Let me see. There is a receiving means, also the means for rotating it, along with a means for separating bundles. I make that three.

Right on the dot! My own personal efforts to improve my comprehension are, at present, measured against Windelband's great A History of Philosophy.

"In all reflection, however, the essential thing is to discover the point of view that is determinative for the question, and then to apply this correctly to the subject." ( Vol. II, pg. 361 pb)

"Natural science acquired its decisive influence upon the development of modern philosophy by first gaining its own independence with the aid of a conscious use of a scientific method, and then from this position being able to determine the general movement of thought as regards both form and content." (Vol. II, pg.378 pb)

These are sentences I quickly pulled out. They are complicated in the best sense. They need to be this complicated because the thoughts they express are complicated. The moral being that only people who have such versatility with language have the ability to think at that level.

There is a kind of blindness our subjective point of view tends to create for us, because each individual's present state of ability with language closely matches the depth of their thought. They don't experience a difficulty in writing or speaking their ideas, so they believe they have a sufficient mastery of the language. (Some people don't fit this.)

It is chiefly when we read or listen to someone with markedly better language skill that our eyes are opened. In the current, dumbed-down culture, it is only extreme and selfish self-discipline that will keep a person working to achieve a high level of ability with langauge. We Objectivists have a heads-up on the relationship between language and thought, and the key significance of thought and reason to the success and quality of our own lives, so we're ahead of the game in that respect.

In technical writing, there is a tendency to indefinite reference. That problem was handled very well in the patent example above.

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Here is a perfectly grammatical and meaningful statement: […] This example of repeated uses, in close proximity, of the same term for different specific parts of a device illustrates the versatility of grammar.
Grammar used for claim construction and interpretation does not use generally accepted English grammar. In combination with varied lexical common sense starting points of patent drafters, examiners and judges, and contentious propriety of dictionary usage, patent claim grammar is frequently intended to convey syntactical and contextual meaning outside conventional understanding. Excerpting a portion of one claim does not support your purposes of providing the example.
Language is such an achievement! How few of us live up to it.
To reiterate the responses in the thread Changing the language and usage, the Court of Appeal decision in Autogiro Company of America v. the United States aptly states that things are not made for the sake of words, but words for things. By proper law, an inventor - any of us - is his own lexicographer, but this does not allow any word to take on any meaning for the sake of constructing and interpreting claims by predating and cannibalizing English language misuse. Communication is useful, language only historically so. Communication is achieved by individuals who invent and alter language to describe entities and their relationships, not by honouring linguisitic agreements unless doing so implicitly makes communication easier.

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Here is a perfectly grammatical and meaningful statement: […] This example of repeated uses, in close proximity, of the same term for different specific parts of a device illustrates the versatility of grammar.
Grammar used for claim construction and interpretation does not use generally accepted English grammar. In combination with varied lexical common sense starting points of patent drafters, examiners and judges, and contentious propriety of dictionary usage, patent claim grammar is frequently intended to convey syntactical and contextual meaning outside conventional understanding. Excerpting a portion of one claim does not support your purposes of providing the example.
Language is such an achievement! How few of us live up to it.
To reiterate the responses in the thread Changing the language and usage, the Court of Appeal decision in Autogiro Company of America v. the United States aptly states that things are not made for the sake of words, but words for things. By proper law, an inventor - any of us - is his own lexicographer, but this does not allow any word to take on any meaning for the sake of constructing and interpreting claims by predating and cannibalizing English language misuse. Communication is useful, language only historically so. Communication is achieved by individuals who invent and alter language to describe entities and their relationships, not by honouring linguisitic agreements unless doing so implicitly makes communication easier.

How does patent language not use standard grammar?

Do you not recognize the role of grammar in allowing us to combine concepts so as to create propositional meaning?

Mindy

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Concepts and, therefore, language are primarily a tool of cognition—not of communication, as is usually assumed. Communication is merely the consequence, not the cause nor the primary purpose of concept-formation—a crucial consequence, of invaluable importance to men, but still only a consequence. Cognition precedes communication; the necessary precondition of communication is that one have something to communicate.

- Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Chapter 7, "The Cognitive Role of Concepts"

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Concepts and, therefore, language are primarily a tool of cognition—not of communication, as is usually assumed. Communication is merely the consequence, not the cause nor the primary purpose of concept-formation—a crucial consequence, of invaluable importance to men, but still only a consequence. Cognition precedes communication; the necessary precondition of communication is that one have something to communicate.

- Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Chapter 7, "The Cognitive Role of Concepts"

Exactly.

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