Remember Your Audience

My family spent the holidays in New Zealand. I recommend the experience for any of you who like travel, camping and/or sheep. You can read one of several articles inspired by that trip here.  But that’s not the point of this post.

I’ve had a tradition for decades about buying a book whenever I travel. What kind of book varies widely. In Alaska last year, I bought something on Alaskan folklore. In Korea last decade, I bought a J.R.R. Tolkien translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight because it was the only book I could find in English.

In New Zealand, I bought a cookbook. I’d enjoyed several dishes I’d not had in the U.S. and figured that would be a good choice. The recipes I’ve tried all succeeded. It’s a great cookbook.

But.

The damn thing is in metric. The recipes call for 200 g of beef, and preheating the oven for 180 degrees. I have a converter on my iPhone now, and write the equivalents in the margins. It’s a very minor pain in my butt, but it’s definitely a pain.

Certainly not the fault of the writer or publisher — the book was written for New Zealanders, by New Zealanders. But it illustrates how easily small details can affect your reader’s experience.

Something to think about.

Thanks for listening.

2 thoughts on “Remember Your Audience

  1. I wish our country as a whole would kick the clunky, archaic, and all around annoying ASE system to the curb, and embrace the metric system…

    I don’t read a lot of books from the U.K., but I do read a handful of news and entertainment articles from there. The big one that always throws me is slang. It’ll sometimes add a couple minutes of reading to an article, having to look up what a particular slang term means.

    • Agreed. Metric is simply better. We’re just being stubborn. You’re enough younger than me that you might not remember that year (early 80s) where we were supposed to switch, but didn’t.

      I like British slang. For me, it’s not as bad because of my time in Japan. Most of my colleagues were from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. I got pretty used to it…

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