Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Drop the jargon

Rick Roche, who writes the ricklibrarian blog, did a quick review of the Computers in Libraries CIL) blog postings and wrote:
Writers of library technical blogs, your less technical [colleagues] are also trying to read your work. Please consider them in your writing. It will advance librarianship and perhaps give you more influence in your home libraries if you do.
He points to the fact that many of the postings from CIL had acronyms and jargon in them, which may not be understandable to less technical librarians (e.g., FRBR).

Perhaps we should add a list of acronyms/jargon to the wiki with definitions or point to sources (glossaries) that people can use? Something to consider for next year. Imagine if every speaker contributed just a few terms from their talks...could be quite interesting and very useful.

For those of us working on technical projects in the library community, we need to keep Rick's wishes in mind. We will have no impact if our audience does not understand up. We need to talk about projects in terms that our users and our coworkers will understand.

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Michael said...

Excuse me for ranting here but... I am constantly surprised by the number of librarians that are afraid to look something up. Granted, yes, a blog writer should explain things but none of us are perfect. Sometimes we mistakenly assume that our readers will understand the jargon. (In most cases they do.) However, if you're the reader and you don't understand something use your librarian skills and find the answer yourself. The blog's author isn't there to hand everything to you.

ricklibrarian said...

Jill, thank you for noticing my review.

Michael is probably right that most readers of library tech blog postings understand what is being said. Most readers are probably other tech librarians, and the postings are mostly for them. What I wish is that when the audience is expanded (wikis and blogs directing new readers to the reports), for example with conference reports, a little more time be taken to write more reflectively, explaining concepts and saying what is important or innovative. I do look up terms, but when the definitions may also include several new words to look up it slows getting the meaning of the original reports. When there are other postings to read, many readers will go on to those instead of struggles with the difficult to read pieces. Librarians, like all readers, appreciate clarity, and we are very interested in the ideas in brought out in these conferences.

Christina said...

I would amend that -- it's not about looking it up all the time -- just ask us! No stupid questions and if one reader's asking another probably wants to. We're always happy to get non-spam comments :)