Another descendant of graphein:
paragraph [ME paragraf marginal sign marking a paragraph, fr. AF parogref, fr. ML paragraphus, fr. Gk paragraphos, line used to mark change of persons in a dialogue, fr. paragraphein, to write alongside …l] (1525) 1a: a subdivision of a written composition that consists of one or more sentences , deals with one point or gives the words of one speaker, and begins on a new usu. indented line, etc. (from Merriam-Webster)
I start with the definition of paragraph both to continue my exploration of the children of graphein (see “Graph words” on Aug. 11, 2011 ) and to launch a gripe about one aspect of the online world, those spaces between paragraphs. The appearance of my blog is different from most online writing — it lacks those spaces that seem to be normal e-style. I don’t understand the purpose of those spaces. They remind me of Ira Glass on NPR. Ira has a smooth, satisfying radio voice, but he pauses between thoughts, and when I’m listening I want to say, “Come on, keep going, I’m waiting here.” If a paragraph contained such internal spaces, it would look like this:
It seems that all online writing is formatted this way. ………….. Newspaper articles that are put online have spaces between paragraphs that did not exist on paper. …………… If I type a post on my blog, every return for a paragraph inserts one of those annoying spaces. ………………….. See, aren’t these long gaps annoying?
Some posts are even worse and insert several spaces, as just happened. This happens in email, and I have missed parts of messages because I think I have seen all the information.
Who decided to insert these spaces between paragraphs and why? Is it related to a supposed short attention span of online readers? Why does everyone do it? Was some online mandate handed down declaring those spaces a computer world law? Why do all the sites copy this practice? Can’t people think for themselves? Or did some marketing team release a report saying those spaces help sell ads? Is that too many questions?
I hated the paragraph space nuisance from the commencement of my blogging, and, ever the rebel, I found a means to circumvent it. I write my posts in a different program and copy them to my blog when they’re ready. This alternate program has a better spell-check anyway. You won’t find those spaces on my blog. You’re paying for words, not spaces. I write for people with long attention spans. If you want spaces, look elsewhere. ……………. Or listen to Ira Glass.