The call is going out in America—from community leaders, businesspeople, and even the president—for more people to learn how to code. It’s a valiant goal. But it can be sabotaged by our own language. Terms such as “prototypical inheritance” and “thunks” can be intimidating to newcomers, even when the ideas behind them aren’t actually all that unfamiliar.
As the people working within the bubble of tech jargon, we have both the opportunity and the duty to help the growing ranks of developers and OSS contributors understand just what exactly we’re on about. Doing so isn’t hard, but it does require a step back to understand the audience, as well as a bit of clever thinking.
Zoe Landon explains some tricks from the world of creative writing that help achieve this goal. Zoe explores familiar structures like metaphor and allusion as well as ideas pulled from novelists about writing for clarity and familiarity, primarily focusing on when and how to use them to their best effect. With a little bit of effort, you’ll not only understand your own work and community better but also be able to explain it clearly to even the most technophobic lawyer.
Zoe Landon is a web developer and author, with a focus on frontend development. Zoe’s career has covered the needs of independent small businesses all the way up to massive media conglomerates. In a past life, she created levels and other content for a variety of video games and edited a literary arts magazine. She worked with Sir Christopher Lee that one time but doesn’t have all that many stories from it. Currently, Zoe works in research and design for Marketo, along with running her music discovery project RCRDList and playing drums for the Mighty Missoula. Her remaining time is spent competing in pub quizzes and caring for her pet rabbit, Jordan, who is as good at jumping as his name implies.
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