Normal is regular. Average. Medium.

Normal is safe, familiar, warm and comfortable.

Normal is the thing you know.

It is what is.

But normal isn’t great.

Normal isn’t fantastic.

Normal can never be amazing.

These words from the Mini “Not Normal” Campaign summarize the paradox of normal. On the one hand, most people want to be considered normal; no-one wants to be thought of as abnormal. However, we don’t want to be thought of as only normal. We’d like to believe that we are unique, special, and different than everyone else, that is, not normal.

Normal is the most common thing that people are or the way most people act under a given set of circumstances. Because normal applies to most people, most people are, by definition, normal. It would difficult to have a functioning society if the majority of its people did not behave normally. Such a society would be in chaos, as everyone pushed the boundaries of normal behaviour.

However, society also requires a few people to not be normal. The great leaders, innovators, thinkers and agitators who push the world forward and change it for the better are not normal. Einstein, Michelangelo, Picasso, Freud, and Steve Jobs were exceptional, refused to accept the normal world they were born into (the status quo) and fought hard to change it. It is only after their accomplishments become well known and accepted that these individuals became part of the new normal.

Because normal applies to the mind, it’s a major component of psychiatry. People who act or think in an abnormal way, especially if it can cause them or others harm, should receive treatment. A desire to eat candies is normal, but a desire to eat several kilograms of candies a day is not. However, there is a sad history of labeling people abnormal or deviant who were simply different than others. There’s only a two letter difference between sane and insane, but in those two little letters lies all the difference.

Normal has a shape. Some shopping malls have large circular sculptures hanging from their ceilings. The reason for this is psychological. The malls are carefully designed to signify they are a safe and comfortable environment. When shoppers see circles, they see safety, because a circle has no sharp edges. People who feel safe and comfortable are more likely to have a longer shopping experience.

A sphere is a three-dimensional circle. Bubbles form naturally into spheres because it’s the smallest shape required to hold the air inside the soap film. Planets are spherical, because when they form, they are extremely hot, making the planet fluid; the planet eventually succumbs to the gravitational pull from its center. The best way to get the planet’s mass to the centre is to form a sphere – it is nature’s “laziest” shape.

Roundness, therefore, is a physical manifestation of normal. But there’s another subtler link between roundness and normal.

One way of measuring normal is to plot the values of something on a graph. For example, if you plot the ages, weights or heights of people, they would follow a pattern that looks like this:






This shape is called a normal distribution or bell curve. It’s a visual representation of what is normal. There’s a formula that represents this normal distribution. It’s a complex one but here it is:





At the bottom portion of this formula near the centre, you’ll see the number π (pi). If you remember your high school math, pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, approximately 3.14. That is, at level of mathematics, there’s a connection between circles and how things are normally distributed.

Perhaps that is why so many things that we find normal are round, from the rings on our fingers, to the wheels we move on, the dishes we eat off and the buttons we press and dress with. It is why normal people are called “well rounded”.

Nature has methodically programmed into our world the desire for normal through this shape. Even the body parts we use to perceive roundness: the eye’s cornea, pupil, lens and retina, are themselves round. And we see it all while standing on the Earth, the largest, roundest shape of all.


Two things I have opinions about! Panel 1 and panel 2.

The phrase in panel 1 is correct. Do you see it? Many many people get it wrong. Answer below

Panel 2 is grammatical but not true! Lots of people use this phrase incorrectly, too. What is it?


Panel one: “all right” two words is correct. Many folks incorrectly use “alright.” ick.Panel 2: Use “can’t wait” only if you describe doing something because you can’t actually wait. If all you want to do is emphasize your desire for something to happen, say “I can hardly wait.” harrumpf.

Search engine optimization

Millions of internet users across the globe are constantly searching for answers and solutions on the web via search engines. Google alone processes 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. These huge figures have not gone unnoticed across several companies and businesses who now do all they can to match their content with search engine queries.

But what about technical content such as helps and documentations? Should companies and technical writers post their online help systems to servers that can be accessed and indexed by search engines? And if they do, are there any benefits over other companies and writers who don’t? Let’s find out.

Whether you call yourself an Information Architect, Content Specialist, Instructional Designer, Freelance Writer or an Engineer of the Written Word, if you create content on a technical subject then there are certain common challenges that seem to come up again and again. When it comes to drafting your technical documentation, it’s important that you’re able […]

The post The Top Three Challenges Faced by Tech Writers and How to Solve Them appeared first on MadBlog: The Official Technical Communications Blog for MadCap Software.

In Hashtag #TechComm: An Overview of Members, Networks, and Themes from 2016-2019, published in Technical Communication Journal (68.2 May 2021), Chris Lam identifies trends and themes in the tech comm field by looking 75,000+ tweets that used the hashtag #techcomm from 2016 to 2019. Previously, academics looked at job advertisements to identify trends, so this Twitter analysis for data provides a new approach to identifying trends.

One of My Rules!


Well, rule of thumb, that is. A recommendation, really. Third panel. He stated the rule a bit more strongly than I do.

My rule is that your writing is generally better if you can think of a good verb and dispense with the adverb. Unless your emphasis is on the adverb, maybe.

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