Wired Style: Anticipate the Future
Tuesday, January 21, 1997
Wendy Mattson introduced guest speaker Constance Hale, editor of Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age (San Francisco: HardWired, 1996), and her colleague Jessie Scanlon, a Wired feature editor. Connie disclaimed any unusually technical background, explaining that her path to Wired began in journalism. She started at Wired with the charge of building a copy desk and a research desk. At the beginning the editorial staff relied on a two-page style guide and the Associated Press Stylebook.
The idea of developing a Wired style guide began when they began getting phone calls, including one from The New Yorker, asking for advice about editorial issues raised by the explosion in digital communication. Connie worked with publisher Kevin Kelley to develop principles rather than rules. Gradually they came up with what they called their Ten Commandments, which became the table of contents for Wired Style. It was designed to be a service-oriented book, not shovelware (material that is shoveled onto a CD-ROM or Web site after it has been somewhere else).
After her talk, Connie entertained questions regarding common problems in digital communications. She agreed with the goal of diminishing the use of acronyms when possible, although she asserted that for some specific readerships, acronyms are not a problem. She suggested that product and business acronyms look ugly in text if they are longer than four characters; usually they can be presented with an initial cap and lower case, as in Nasdaq. She also pointed out that italics can be difficult to read on the Web and that quotation marks are generally more effective.