Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Dirty Boulevard

316 words

Like most people in internet connected offices in this country I’ll come home from my office well-informed on slow days thanks to various news sites. The most notorious of them is Spiegel Online the online offspring of the old-school and (formerly? – they seem to have lost a bit of text and quality since they went all-colour in the mid 1990s) high-quality news magazine Der Spiegel.

The problem with that site [of which I may note that they had a re-design last year and it took them weeks to resolve the problems of bad layout that I immediately spotted], though, is that the easiest way to attract many ad-clickers isn’t to cram it full of well-researched in depth articles in the morning, but to publish puff-pieces on the site every half an hour or so. That way the pages keep changing and you get the impression of things being ‘current’. And yet they don’t need to employ too many qualified people but simple rewrites of whatever the press agencies deliver.

An ugly trend in the online and proper ‘press’ that you can spot on that site particularly well is the abuse of dashes (although they don’t even bother and use the normal hyphen character instead). Somehow when writing the article summaries that are seen on the front page, they often insert a superfluous dash in there. I assume to make things seem more interesting, because reading the hyphen gives your reading a little dramatic pause.

That’s just a shame and an abuse of a wonderful bit of punctuation.

[And yes, I tried to make an AppleScript service for stripping the dashes from a selection in Safari – thanks to Safari’s cool feature of having services enabled for the text in web pages. But as services only work on the text and will not preserve the HTML contained in it, that doesn’t really work in this case]

April 11, 2007, 1:20

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