Monday, January 5, 2015

Nude Ricks

Once again, the old lady is trying to teach herself new tricks – or, at least, new habits. This one has been a long time coming; I put it off for years because I felt My Habit is Valid, then for the past year or so just because I Have Enough on my Plate.

But new year, new ways to do things, and new horizons. So it is time, at last, to tackle the retraining of one of the oldest, most ingrained typing habits those of us of a certain age cling to: the two-spaces-after-a-period stop.

It’s long past time where I can counter-complain to those who despise the “river of white” that “oh yeah, well the unbroken block of text is ugly too” – and the fact that the river is poor-looking mostly in two-column justified text, which emphasizes space in a way even non-columned justified (never mind unjustified) does not produce, just doesn’t matter anymore. Single-spacing is standard, and if I wish to be in the business of writing, I need to provide standardized product that can be used and *will not annoy* professional readers. The "river of white"-ers have won (because GBOTs are so pretty). So it is time for me to stop doing the search-and-replace remediation, and shift my baseline.

After the fact changes leave room for accidents to creep in, because in writing, AFTER-after-the-fact (editing/revision) is ALWAYS a factor.

Too: there’s a simple benefit in learning a different way to do things (I won’t be dumb and call this “new” – just because it’s new for me doesn’t make the standard a fresh little baby). Learning how to print in lowercase again, after years of writing in all-caps … relearning cursive, after using it in no script but my signature … dealing with my geriatric typing habits, learned on the original selectrics in typing class thirty years ago … I may be a Virginian (*), but change is good and I can appreciate that. It’s also wise to keep the brain limber and learning, and not depend upon opinions formed a generation ago to inform the entire way I live my life.

And so: the two spaces must go. So far, that’s been a change involving lots of delete-backspacing, and even retyping at the terminus of every single sentence in a post, comment, or paragraph. But I’m getting better. This post has gone well, anyway. And, if it’s like re-learning how to hand write, it won’t take too long.

Are you ready to dam (and/or damn!) your rivers? If you’ve done this, let me know how it went – and what worked for you!

(*How many Virginians does it take to change a light bulb? Five. One to do the actual changing of the bulb. Two more to stand off to one side, TSK-TSK-ing about how much better the old bulb was, and how the new bulb probably won’t keep us warm in winter, may cause migraines, won’t light as well, and will change our lives for the worse. And two more, to write the history of the original bulb, with maps and Civil War citations.)


Colin Smith said...

I was a two-spacer for many years. In fact, I first came across single-spacing after moving to the States when I was told it was the Microsoft standard. Naturally, that only made me dig my heels in more to my double-spaced ways. Then it became apparent that it was a standard beyond the dictates of Bill Gates. An American standard? That wasn't any more likely to make me change my ways. I think in the end I got fed up fighting it. Clearly it's what everyone does these days, and there are plenty more important things to be stubborn about. So I began resisting the urge to hit that spacebar a second time. Soon enough, it became second nature.

Reading your story, Diane, I'm wondering if maybe it's a generational thing. While we were born in countries separated by thousands of miles, we are only a separated by a few years. And it seems we both had this same struggle. If only I'd known, I might have succumb much sooner. "Updating to current usage" sounds a lot better than "caving in to the demands of Microsoft." :)

DLM said...

It's definitely generational, I think I've seen some of our other non-millennial pals comment on this at Janet's blog in the past couple of months. Yet the argument I've read so many times, that the two-space rule is pointless due to changes in technology seems to me self-defeating, because those same changes have rendered most formatting incredibly malleable, so two-spacing does not really make much difference.

At its core, the divide is cosmetic: people who SEETHE with horror at the "river of white" versus those of us who frankly find Giant Blocks of Unbroken Text pretty ugly (not to mention dense and visually impenetrable). We're pearl-clutchers on both sides, and realizing that is helping me to let go.

I prefer the visual breathing room others find so horrifying, but they won, I find this a battle laughably not worth choosing, and will move on without indulging any sense of personal defeat. There are too many *actual* disappointments in life to let this feel like one. :)

DLM said...

Now that I think about it twice, though, I have never before heard that Microsoft had anything to do with this. I mean, Microsoft produces tools; they're not a teacher. What the heck would they have to say about how their tools are used (that's Mac's deal, isn't it - har)? I can't recall ever seeing Word, for instance, green-underlining my two-spacing, or remediating it.

Colin Smith said...

I seem to recall some version of Word way-back-when that auto-spaced after a period. That seems weird, but I don't know how else I would have got the impression that MS were behind the single-space rule.

It was probably about the same time I heard this joke:

Q: How many Microsoft employees does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: None. They just make darkness the new standard.

Jeff said...

I had to make this same change once upon a time—I'm guessing we're roughly the same age—but two things helped. First, I began working on projects where my work was typeset, and designers griped at me; second, and more important, was the understanding that two spaces didn't serve any grammatical or aesthetic purpose, so there was no principle to uphold. It took a while: I started typing on a Commodore 64 when I was 13, and I had to change my habits and embrace the single space when I was in my early 30s—but embrace it I did.

(My understanding is that the two-space rule arose to make it easier to read typed manuscripts...)