Saturday, September 16, 2006

Advance Warning of Emergency

I've been doing a lot of technical writing recently. In the process of this I've been thinking a lot about the careful choice of words, how they go together and what information they do or don't convey.

With this in mind I became quite upset when driving and saw a sign about a diversion due to a closed road. The sign was about the 'Advanced warning of road closure due to emergency sewer repairs'.

There's two things that jumped out at me. Advanced warning & Emergency.
How can you have an advanced warning of an emergency? Emergency implies a sense of urgency, that something must be done NOW!

Think emergency services. You're never going to call them and say "I'm going to have a heart attack. Can you send an ambulance in two days time."
"My house is going to be on fire next Thursday, can you send a fire engine then."

This just completely misuses the word and even concept of an emergency.

My guess is that the intention was to indicate that it was an important, essential or a priority repair that was being done. I'm sure that If I lived near the broken sewer I'd want right now! not in a few days time.

Of all the words that could end up be sanitised and have their meaning diluted, this is one that should be protected. If 'emergency' ended up meaning 'quite important' it would be a terrible thing.

Rant over.

This is not about my job

I probably need to get this in early and I imagine I'll refer to it again in the future.

Nothing I write here is about my job, the company I work at now, or companies I have worked at in the past, the people mentioned in any posts may or may not exist or have said what I claim they have.

Any opinions expressed may or may not be mine. I'll do my job and you do yours and together we'll make the world a better place. And if you are not interested in making the world a better place, why not?

I don't want to hurt or offend anyone by what I write here. Just treat it all as made up.

Was that a false start?

Okay, so the idea was to blog to encourage me to write more so it was more of a habit.

Err, it's just that I've spent the last couple of weeks writing documentation at work. This has not left me feeling like writing anything else.

So here I am, back trying to write anything and often. Well that's the plan at least. I just hopes I can follow through.