links for 2011-04-24

  • "Early on in my career someone returned a paper I had written along with a copy of what was known as "the Kahn memo" which he had circulated in 1977 to his colleagues at the Civil Aeronautics Board.  In it,  Kahn railed against the artificial and hyper-legal language favored by bureaucrats and urged his employees to use "straightforward, quasi-conversational, humane prose."  The key word here is "humane."  It was our duty as public servants to write clearly, yes, but also with compassion and sympathy for our readers.  Every now and then when I found myself lazily falling back on horrible bureaucratic gobbledygook, I could snap out of it by rereading Kahn's memo."
  • "If you can’t explain what you’re doing in plain English, you’re probably doing something wrong."