Stuck for a lead

As a regular contributor to our sister publication, The Engineer, I’m always hunting around for an interesting lead from which to develop a story that might whet the appetites of the magazine and website’s readers.

Sometimes, I discover such stories by visiting trade fairs or exhibitions, while at other times, if I’m more hard pressed, I will undertake a comprehensive search for a design or production engineering innovation that might have raised its head on the Internet.

Last week was one of those weeks when, hard pressed for anything interesting to follow up, I decided to spend the best part of an entire day on the Internet looking for inspiration. Having done so, I can honestly say without fear of contradiction that it’s not an experience that I would want to repeat all that often.

It’s not just that there isn’t enough information out there – there is. In fact, there’s far too much of it. But for the most part, much of the material is nothing more than complete and utter mindless nonsense.

Even manufacturers of products that are clearly targeting engineers working in systems integration companies seem to produce material that is full of nothing more than marketing waffle – describing their products in words that mean nothing to engineers who, like me, might also be attempting to discover three simple facts about any specific  technology – namely, its features, advantages and the benefits.

It’s very sad that a lot of companies seem to have forgotten who their target audience is. Or maybe they are trying to play to the financial community instead. But, for whatever reason, they have done nothing more than fill their engineering websites chock full of literary gobbledegook.

After several hours of sifting through such drivel to find out any facts (and only the facts) behind any new technology or process, one finds oneself with one of the commonest symptoms experienced by human beings – a darned great headache.

Although headaches are generally harmless in themselves, they are very occasionally an indication that one has a serious disease. However, in the case of reading through pages of meaningless hyperbole on the Internet, they are an indication of something else entirely.

That’s right – they are actually an indication of the fact that the writers who have been employed to disseminate technical information across the World Wide Web for many of these engineering companies are actually quite clueless as to the needs of their target audience.

Fortunately, the solution to the headache issue can be solved quite simply without taking any heavy doses of Verapamil, as I found to my delight. All you have to do is to shut down your computer system and uncork a nice bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc instead…

Dave Wilson
Editor, Electronicstalk

Dave’s comments form part of the weekly Electronicstalk newsletter, which also includes a round-up of the latest electronic products and services for engineers. To subscribe click here