Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson

Jeff, an editor to his very core, is working as an administrative assistant. He isn't loving it. Then he gets a slightly crazy idea; take a road trip cross country and help those in need. In need of editing that is. And then he actually does it. With various friends along the way, especially Benjamin Herson, Jeff tracks down typos and fixes them. Sometimes with permission, sometimes without. Things go along pretty well until the two are accused of vandalizing a sign in a national park. And then the typo hunters enter dark days indeed.

This was pretty interesting. I did wonder why he decided to refer to the grammatical mistakes as "typos" though. That just seemed odd. A typo is a mistake you make by accidentally striking the wrong key. Most of what Jeff and Benjamin were correcting weren't typos in any way. They were mistakes by people who didn't know any better. Sometimes they corrected mistakes that probably had been made because someone hadn't taken the time to reread what they'd written, but for the most part, it was people who didn't spell well or didn't understand rules of grammar. I hear you, people of the world. Those aren't exactly my strengths either.

While I enjoyed this, I thought it was kind of jerky that they corrected stuff without asking for permission. And in the end, during the "learned a valuable lesson" part, Jeff admitted that had been pretty jerky. But seriously. Making changes to permanent signs without talking to anyone first? That's not very nice. I think it's one thing if it's like a whiteboard or something, but quite another if it's a formal sign or plaque.

Jeff struggled a lot as he continued on with his trip about why exactly he was doing this. What was it accomplishing? What was the point? I agree that there should be a standardized way of doing things, but I think the point he made that there are multiple right ways of doing things is even more important. There are so many different styles of doing things. One isn't more right than the other.

Most fun was probably hearing about the different reactions when they did actually ask to fix a sign. So many people reacted adversely to being told they had made a mistake, and in many cases refused to let them fix it. If I was in that situation, I would probably be embarrassed, but I would definitely fix my mistake. I keep meaning to pay more attention to signs now, since apparently "typos" are all over, but I always forget. Maybe I just don't notice because I understand what the sign is trying to say. Jeff would be disappointed in me.

Jeff and Benjamin and currently on their book tour. Check out their web site at

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