capital letters are my friends

I've discovered a number of new blogs lately with some really good thoughts. They're places that I'd go back to regularly, but for one thing:

They don't use any capitalization.

I understand that this is a very 'hep' thing to do, and that much of it springs from the world of instant messaging, where capital letters are used infrequently. When I instant message, I use a lot fewer caps as well, and my titles for posts often omit them. I've used all lower-case letters in some designs for logos and taglines. I love the poetry of lucille clifton, which is in all lower-case letters.

What all of these things -- post titles, instant messages, taglines, clifton's poetry -- have in common, though, is that they're brief lines of text. When I'm reading longer passages of prose, I find it to be very hard work to read if there aren't the natural visual breaks provided by conventional punctuation, paragraphing, and capital letters.

It's not that I think that conventional grammar and typography are moral goods; if anything, I feel a little guilty for not reading something solely because it's entirely in lower-case letters. I've never left a huffy comment on someone's blog about capitalization or punctuation, and I don't intend to start. I have occasionally suggested to someone that their fundraising letters to a diverse readership or their grant applications will probably be more successful if they use conventional grammar and typography, but that's a different matter entirely. But it does make me a little sad when I miss out on someone's perfectly good or even wonderful ideas simply because the typography requires more effort to read than I can manage in the midst of everything else I keep up with.

Am I getting prematurely crotchety, incredibly lazy, or overly demanding? I don't know, but while the proliferation of new media such as blogs that make publishing affordable has at least one down side: with so very much published information out there, there's a lot more competition for readers, and someone who wants a broad readership (not everyone does, of course) to gain influence for their ideas needs to be even more conscientious about removing potential roadblocks for readers.

May 28, 2005 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack