Fifthtry

Pronouns Bad

It is my thesis that biggest challenge faced by humanity is our failure to communicate. I say something, and you hear something else. What you like or dislike is not what I said, but what you heard.

It is our job, to be as unambiguous as possible.

One easy way to miscommunicate is by using pronouns. Words like he, she, it, must be avoided as much as possible.

I was reading this excellent article on communication:

Async writing is different from chat messages. It lives longer, targets more potential audience and is easy to discover.

To live longer, the text needs to be aware of a larger reader group context. Where chats often consider just one/two readers that have the context to understand what you talk about, the long live text should consider entire group of potential readers. Now, and at some point in the future.

For the text live longer and target wider audience, it needs to assume less pre-existing reader context. Chat messages target one/two readers, at a specific time. So they assume those readers have the current context that will be clear to them specifically.

Async writing don’t assume a specific person context nor does it assume “current” events knowledge. Surprisingly, that doesn’t necessarily make the text longer or harder to write.

As an example, we consider a scenario where we have a DB issue in our team in which the MySQL instance fails occasionally due to out-of-memory errors. Writing just for your team, they know what is the issue now and what DB it is. Others, might not know which DB have the issue (say you also use mongodb somewhere) not they know what the issue is.

A message sufficient for chat context that will not live long might be: “I’ll fix the DB today”. Async text equivalent will be to log the issue in a system, mark it as “working on it” for today with the text “MySQL out of memory issue”.

The text is not longer, yet it has all the context any outsider might need to understand what is going on without the need to contact anyone asking “What DB we have issue on?” “What is the issue?” “Since when do we know about it?” “Who’s on it?” etc’ etc’.

Beyond pronouns, as the above demonstrates, common nouns, eg “issue” or “the issue” is also ambiguous.


Another way to solve/mitigate the pronoun problem, at least in written communication, could be better writing tool, where you continue to use common nouns and pronouns, but only after internally linking to actual subject.

So instead of writing, “the author is making a strong point”, say, where its not obvious if I am talking about the author as myself, or the author of the text I just quoted, you can write “[the author][the blog post writer] is making a strong [point][@the_point: that async communication is better than sync communication]”.

The stuff in second square bracket will be hidden and is context, which will provide disambiguation hint. The hint can have an id, so all references to terms with that id can be highlighted simultaneously when the user hovers our any of them. In the example above, [point][@the_point: …], the_point is the id. Along with the id, there can be some text, which can provide some more context.

Table Of Content

Immobile v2

Link Log

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

Recommendations

Books Have Read / Recommend

Product Management Books

Badass: Making Users Awesome

Movies

Five Cs of An Organisation

Success and failure of encryption

Open Source

Observer: Observability for Rust

Realm: Web Development Framework Using Rust and Elm

MartD: Server To Browser Messages

On Writing And Formats Of Written Communications

Rust Stuff

Rust feature flags

Why is diesel not compatible with async?

Making Postgres Only Diesel Code To Also Support Sqlite

Rust Git2’s Concepts

Git Hash And Build Date In Rust Build

Systray Only Native App In Rust

Software and Tools I Use Often

IPFS

DNS Over HTTPS Controversy

The Patel Motel Cartel

Standalone Complex

Awesome

January 2020

Word Of The Day

Monkey

Positions

ViM

Emacs

Nix On OSX Catalina

Postgres: WAL / Logical Decoding

Postgres: Listen-Notify

Wisdom

Rules

Go All The Way

SSH Commands

Lovelace

Sorry

Nu Shell

SHA256 vs SHA224

Pronouns Bad

Ghost

Web Components