Word Processing for Fun and Profit

Design in FlightI spent a good chunk of time this weekend writing an article for Andy Arikawa’s Design in Flight magazine, an upstart PDF publication covering the wide world of design. I’m a big proponent of scrappy digital publishing endeavors like DiF, so it was a real privilege to have been asked to contribute. After considering a few overly ambitious article ideas, I settled on a simpler approach for my first contrubution. My article is a more thoughtful, better-researched take on a post I wrote last month about improving your interviewing technique, and it will be published in the magazine’s April 2005 issue. Eventually, I’ll make a copy of the article available online here at Subtraction.com, but for those of you who can’t wait, four-issue subscriptions are available for only US$10.

A few comments on what it was like to write this article: first, when I sat down to start drafting the piece, I thought I’d give Apple’s new word processing application, Pages, a try. I opened it up and took a good look at the interface, which, though it bears a strong resemblance to Keynote’s interface, just looked like too much to learn. At this point, I’m essentially stuck with Microsoft Word as a word processing tool, for better or worse. Its indisputably robust feature set includes everything I need, though some features are better implemented than others. After years of wrestling with it, I know how to get it to produce the results I want, and I don’t really relish the idea of trying to replicate that knowledge in competing programs. It’s a sad comment and exactly the reason why it will take an act of God to unseat Word from its place at the top of the word processing heap.

Second, it felt really good to take the time out to properly write something, rather than frantically trying to squeeze in a weblog post while juggling other tasks, as I’m doing right this very moment. It was a nice experience but also a hell of a lot harder than my usual slapdash writing approach. A lot of my time was spent trying to clarify my thinking so that it would stand up under the scrutiny of a real editor and a probably more discerning audience. It was fun, though, and I’m grateful for having had the opportunity. I need to do more of it.

  1. That was very strange reading that post. It was like reading back my life a week ago. I too have just finished an article for DIF, which was also based on a blog post and I too tried Pages, but ended up using Word instead.


  2. Yeah sure. Here’s the orginal post. I still get quite a bit of interest regarding this post and more specifically about grid design. The upcoming article in DIF is an extention of this with a kind of tutorial to go along with it. Hopefully it will answer some of the questions people have about simple compositional thoery and how they relate to designing a grid.

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