language

Plain language (and nerds) rule

Carolyn McMaster | April 17, 2013

I love Nerd Nite SF—cool lectures by people who are passionate about their geeky subjects (DIY drones! Weird fungi! Space hacking! Physics magic!), happening on the third Wednesday of every month (that’s tonight) at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. The organizers’ motto: “It’s like the Discovery Channel—with beer!” What’s not to love?

But what really endeared me to co-bosses Bart and Lucy was their posted alert, headlined IMPORTANT LEGALESE:

“We want to take pictures and videos of our event and put them on the Interwebz. We might also use them in our magazine, podcast, interviews, or things we haven’t even thought of yet. If you’re not cool with this, you should leave (ask for a refund!). The important thing is we promise not to be dicks with these materials, like inventing a new photoshopped meme template or posting pictures of you vomiting or picking your nose or something. That’s not cool.”

The notice also includes real legalese, which doesn’t bear repeating (it’s twice as long as the above, and contains less information).

This put a colleague in mind of this rendering into jargon of a famous passage—fabulous prizes if you can guess the original:

“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

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