Monday, October 31, 2005

Words in pixels

I tweaked a section of my post on how to e-mail a professor this weekend, for a reason that's interesting enough, I think, to note here. Before revision:

Avoid direct requests. They tend to sound more like orders in e-mail. For instance, "Please send me the next assignment." Even worse: "I need the next assignment." It's much better to ask a question: "Could you e-mail me with the page numbers for the next reading? Thanks."
After revision:
Ask politely. "Could you e-mail me the page numbers for the next reading? Thanks!" is a lot better than "I need the assignment."
Why the change? People who are linking to this post are often extracting the main points (in bold). Without the accompanying explanation, "Avoid direct requests" looks rather strange and counter-intuitive.

It's wonderful to contemplate the differences between words in print (amended by corrections that always stand at some distance from the original) and words in pixels.

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