any similar paper/screen elevatory quirks as they write? October 2, 2002 7:10 AM   Subscribe

I have a theory about my own laspes in grammar: whenever I'm applying text to paper, I can easily iron out my flubs with a high degree of accuracy. But once I begin typing onscreen or with a typewriter, my proofreader's eye is more prone to falter.

I suspect this is due to the differences between horizontal and vertical perception; while focusing upon the words as they are produced, it seems that anything beyond a 45 degree angle triggers off an odd left/right hemispherical conflict. But it would be just my luck to have an "shielded" LCD screen for my web work.

Has anyone else notices any similar paper/screen elevatory quirks as they write?
posted by Smart Dalek to MetaFilter-Related at 7:10 AM (18 comments total)

I should probabally mention that I usually write at about 110 to 135 degrees on average, eye to paperwise.
And yeah, "noticed" is off on the post.

Apart from mild nearsightedness, I've no other difficulty with perception, nor ADD troubles, etc.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:18 AM on October 2, 2002

None of the people in my office (myself included) seem to be able to proof pages properly without printing them out. I hate it. I cringe everytime I hit the print button, but I know I'll miss something if I don't check a paper copy. Please hope me!
posted by whatnot at 7:26 AM on October 2, 2002

I exclusively use a keyboard for typing. Works real good. Also when I hire a proofreader I try to get one with 2 eyes.
posted by mss at 7:57 AM on October 2, 2002

I see it more as a pattern of behavior (though not a good excuse for making mistakes). One looks up to read at times, but not so often to write. Add to that how often they write in that manner and what they're trying to express in words, and there'll be differences in a number of folk.

There are people who can type onscreen for hours at a time, as that's part of their lifestyle/career, but when it comes to making a laundry list of jotting down a phone message on a napkin, their formatting and syntax go directly the way of JeffK. Likewise with those who use ledgers, clipboards and pen on desk mechanics - though some are lucky enough to take to both keyboard and stylus like a duck to water.

Is it merely habit, luck, and/or practice? Or does dexterity play a part? That's what burns in my mind whenever I botch up my posts. (explodes)
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:18 AM on October 2, 2002

Has anyone else notices any similar paper/screen elevatory quirks as they write?

Yes: if the screen is blue or gray, I seem to feel a compulsion to type things I would normally never bother to write down.
posted by walrus at 8:20 AM on October 2, 2002

Actually, I have always had trouble proofreading and in my case it seams to be a function of the way I read. To slow down to proof is a difficult thing for me to do.
posted by mss at 8:25 AM on October 2, 2002

I'm an editor, and I definitely need a paper printout to catch all the errors. On-screen I just don't see things the same way, and I sometimes miss commas and typos -- the easy stuff I'm supposed to be able to do in my sleep. I've read studies about people having lower reading retention online (I looked, but I can't find them right now). I wonder if the issues are related?
posted by doubtful_guest at 9:10 AM on October 2, 2002

Has anyone else notices any similar paper/screen elevatory quirks as they write?

Nope. Though for those who do, the contrast differential may be a contributing factor.
posted by rushmc at 9:22 AM on October 2, 2002

I have a theory about my own laspes

Smart Dalek: my own pet theory is that Laspes are famous German clay-pipe manufacturers.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:35 AM on October 2, 2002

Yes, I'm better at proofreading a hard copy. I always figured that by constantly reading semi-coherent rants on the internet, I've conditioned myself to ignore spelling and grammar errors when viewing a computer screen.

But seriously, I think it's a matter of focus. If you're on a computer, you've got other windows open and there's buttons and menus and other visual clutter. But when you're looking at a piece of paper, it's just words. I also give a nod to the contrast theory.
posted by toothless joe at 9:38 AM on October 2, 2002

This is a very interesting topic. Since I can type faster than I can write with a pen, I have always assumed my many lapses arise because of the speed involved...i.e. I make mistakes typing that would never arise if I were writing out in longhand. Strange mistakes such as typing "were" for "where" and "becuase" for "because".

Fortunately, because I keep making the same mistakes over and over again (schedual for schedule) I know where the hot spots are.

Because I read phrases and sentences rather than words, proofreading is a bitch. I usually have to move my lips-- thereby slowing the reading process down.

And there is something to that theory of Toothless Joe, that we have all become conditioned to grammar and spelling mistakes on-line. My own partner (an impeccable speller) fell into the habit of using yr for you're/your. I could just smack him!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:52 PM on October 2, 2002

Thank you for this post. There's no chance that Metafilter is coded to mangle my words?

I suspect there's some connection between the inability to proof and the light being beamed into the retinas by s CRT or other display. Actually, I've never not used a CRT. I would like to find someone who can proof on a screen.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:26 PM on October 2, 2002

I would wear blueblocker sunglasses while I proof, but I think it looks funny with my tinfoil helmet.
posted by yonderboy at 7:58 PM on October 2, 2002

Yes. Lately I've noticed myself hand-writing my common typos. Since I type really fast, there are some words I almost always mis-type. I've become so accustomed to having to correct them when typing that I anticipate them, and this has somehow transferred itself to my handwriting (f'rex, "hte" for "the"). It's weird.
posted by biscotti at 10:47 PM on October 2, 2002

I am astonished to find myself sometimes typing "there" for "their", and I'm sure this is a mistake that I would never make when writing...

However, I saw this on the ABC News site today (here):
Gore, the Democratic nominee who lost to Bush in 2000, said again Wednesday that he will announce by year's ago whether he make another White House run.

And, on Ananova that horrid "loose" for "lose", so we are by no means alone.

posted by taz at 11:51 PM on October 2, 2002

Smart Dalek: Do you think that, were you to use a tabletop display (such as the ones pictured here or here) it would solve your problem? Just curious, as this is one of the topics my lab at school has been researching lately.
posted by sanitycheck at 9:19 AM on October 3, 2002

I have the same problem, I think there are multiple causes. Toothless joe's visual clutter explanaion is a good one, perhaps if you used "print preview" to look at your work you would catch typos more easily (I just tried it and noticed you typed "an shielded" instead of "a shielded").

I also thought I read somewhere that moving from a CRT to a flat panel display helps.
posted by bobo123 at 10:25 AM on October 3, 2002

One trick, depending on your environment: If your computer has a text-to-speech function, you can listen to what you've just typed. Often an error you've skimmed over several times and missed will jump out when you hear it spoken.

Plus, if you can load funny voices, like on my Mac, it's damn entertaining sometimes. Yes, I need to get out more.
posted by jalexei at 11:18 AM on October 3, 2002

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