Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Road Not Taken

As a technical editor for the government, I see a lot of strange, ridiculous, and annoying mistakes made in documents. Since I work in the classified space, all of the content (including the mistakes) can’t leave my work computer. However, last week there came a mistake so face-palm inducing that I had to share it (in fact I ranted about it on Facebook). Of course the actual content I’m leaving out but the general idea my boss cleared me to write about.

The document I was editing was another training document like the ones I see every day. Some are dry and others try to captivate the audience. Those that captivate I give a thumbs up since the area of Security/IT/GIS can be a little bit monotonous and uninteresting at times. This person tried to liven it up by throwing in some literary analogies. I was excited; not only did I love that idea but they were using one of my all-time favorite poems: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. For those of you not familiar with the poem this is, I have featured it below:

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The message of this poem is one that I really take to heart: there are many paths that you can take in your life but if you take the one “less traveled by” then in the end you will come out on top. It is a sentiment that I hold dear along with this poem, so when someone mucks it up I get irritable. The way it was used in the context of the document was that no matter what road you take, in the end the fact that you got to your destination is what matters.


That is not what this poem means; I’m all for interpreting things in your own way but that’s just plain wrong. They completely missed the point, the core of this poem. Even worse, because this is an IT/Security environment they don’t much care if the interpretation is right but only that the reader is engaged. Cue major eye-twitching on my part which is the reason I wrote this post; I just couldn’t let it stand. Have you all ever seen such a blatant misinterpretation of literature before? I’d love to hear of any similar instances.

*Poem and image lifted from: http://kacabiru.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/the-road-not-taken/*


petoskystone said...

If I was reading that document as part of my training I would be strongly inclined to dismiss whatever else is written, given that the interpretation is so off the mark.

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