Re: Anthropomorphism is bad because...

Subject: Re: Anthropomorphism is bad because...
From: Janice Gelb <janice -dot- gelb -at- oracle -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2010 08:42:41 +1000

On Jun 22, 2010 10:45PM, Chris Despopoulos wrote:
> Vernacular brings up some reasoning behind anthropomorphism
> or systems. It makes active voice easier. As far as I can
> tell, active voice (generally agreed to be good, right?)
> equires an actor. YOU do x, y, and z. THE SYSTEM displays
> the foo dialog box.

Just want to note that active voice is important
when the actor is important. If the actor is not
important, then passive voice is acceptable. In
your example, it doesn't really matter that the
system is what displays the dialog box. Writing in
all active voice when documenting computer software
would result in a lot of redundancy as you would
always be repeating that "the program" or "the
system" were doing everything, which can pretty
much be taken for granted.

> Janice would say, "Ok, but you don't need to grant
> a system human qualities." True, but it's easier,
> and ultimately less demanding on the reader.[snip]
> So you *can* say "The system enters a wait state
> until you provide the foo." Or you can say "The
> system waits for a foo." You *can* say, "The
> system assembles the structures necessary to manage
> a foo", or you can say "The system expects a foo."

I have no problem with a system "waiting." I have a
problem with implying that the system *knows* it's
waiting ("expects," "anticipates"), tapping its
foot impatiently, no doubt :->

-- Janice

Janice Gelb | The only connection Oracle has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- oracle -dot- com | this message is the return address


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RE: Anthropomorphism is bad because...: From: Chris Despopoulos

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