Viewing entries tagged

Laziness, stupidity and bad spelling.

There are plenty of words that are frequently misspelt by many people – you're probably familiar with many of them. Its easy (and fun) to poke fun at people who can't remember the simple differences between "you're" and "your", or "lose" and "loose". I would hazard a guess that this tends to be the result of an auditory) way of thinking – you think of a word in terms of the sound, and then think of how to spell that sound. (In other words, its not stupidity or laziness – its just a different mode of thinking that might seem stupid or lazy to people who think in a different way.)

But the flip side of the coin is the handful of words which I personally find myself consistently misspelling. For example, I always misspell "respondents." It just looks wrong to me, while "respondants" looks right. I know which one is correct – it just looks wrong to me.

Not a big problem though – I've usually got something that automatically either corrects it or sticks a red line underneath it to remind me that I've made that same old mistake again.

Except sometimes, I use the kind of software that doesn't include a spell checker. Photoshop is one. Final Cut Pro is another. Unlike email software or word processors that hold your hand and walk you through the complicated process of putting a bunch of letters in the right order, these are pieces of software that you use to put letters together to make words, while at the same time worrying about fonts, colours, balance and contrast between the typography and other graphical elements – and in the case of Final Cut, all of these things running at 24 frames per second (so you also have to worry about the timings, speed, where the viewer's attention is going to be, how what they are reading matches up with what they are saying etc.) In short, besides putting letters together to try to make words, you tend to have a few other things on your mind at the same time.

With an email or word processor, when you are finished you hit 'send' or 'save' or 'print', and your job is done. If you do make a mistake which, for some reason, the spell checker hasn't picked up on, it is fairly trivial to correct it. With a video though, when you are finished, you have to deal with rendering and transcoding the video. For something that is just a few minutes long, this can easily take half an hour or so. Maybe you then need to send it to someone – again, for a few minutes of high definition video being uploaded over a domestic broadband connection (where upload speeds are usually a fraction of the download speeds), this can take up another big chunk of time.

I mention all of this because today, I misspelt "respondents" in a video. (Worth mentioning at this point – by profession, I am a researcher. That means that I spend quite a lot of my time dealing with pieces of research, which are usually all about trying to get information out of respondents. So I make this mistake quite a lot…) Correcting the error took up about an hour of my time – about one minute to correct the spelling, and then an hour of rendering, transcoding and uploading.

Except, I then realised that I didn't actually correct the spelling. Instead, I spotted the word that had been spelt correctly, thought that it looked wrong, and then 'corrected' it to the incorrect spelling which I know is incorrect, but I still think looks right. So I then had to spend another minute correcting two misspellings, followed by another hour of rendering, transcoding and uploading.

Some would say that we are overly reliant on spell checking software. I agree. Because I am able to rely on spell checking 99% of the time, I don't need to think about correcting my way of thinking that leads me to consistently make the same mistake again and again, even though – unlike the 'wrong word' kind of spelling – it is quite simply a case of me being lazy and stupid.

And today, being lazy and stupid cost me about 2 hours of my own time (because I was doing this piece of work during my holidays, thanks to a different type of laziness and stupidity.

But thats the subject of another post…)