Hey, let’s give it a name

The year’s first big winter storm is expected to hit the U.S. East Coast this weekend. You know it’s big because the Weather Channel has given it a name: Jonas.


Screenshot from a Weather Channel video. I remember the weather being dreadful last February. Now I know who to blame: Octavia, Pandora….

A few years ago TWC started naming winter storms as if they were hurricanes — a  practice that amuses some, confuses many, and edifies practically no one. TWC’s explanation of the “science” behind naming winter storms is a technical-writing tour de force, mixing a few high-sounding facts with colorful graphs and a sprinkling of acronyms, and wrapping it all in a thick coating of earnestness.

Anyhow, I got to thinking. If TWC can give names to winter storms, why can’t we give names to the various parts of the technical writing process? Something like these….

Documentation plans

  • Doc Plan Holliday: The project is one big gamble
  • Doc Plan Watson: All parts of the project are in harmony
  • Doc Plan Brown: Looking to the future and harking back to the past

Agile scrum stand-up meetings

  • Scrum Meeting Spider-Man: Everything happens at a high level
  • Scrum Meeting Superman: Faster than a speeding bullet
  • Scrum Meeting Green Lantern: Dedicated to rooting out all evil from the user stories

The instructions for configuring the software

  • Task Topic Gordian: It’ll tie you up in knots
  • Task Topic Steely Dan: You know — pretzel logic
  • Task Topic Kobayashi Maru: No right answer, but what you do will reveal your character

After all that planning and writing, the review draft

  • Draft Hemingway: Kind of terse….
  • Draft Faulkner: …and kind of verbose
  • Draft Steinbeck: Not too terse, not too verbose, but maybe not quite “professional” sounding

Building the content for publishing

  • Build Hoover: Content sucked up from everywhere
  • Build Frankenstein: Content cobbled together to make something that, well, kinda works
  • Build Macbeth: A combination of the first two, and everyone dies in the end

OK, it’s your turn. Use the comments section to tell me the ones I missed.

3 thoughts on “Hey, let’s give it a name

  1. Mark Baker

    DITA Colonel Nicholson

    Sorry, you’ll have to work out the reference for yourselves. I’m in enough trouble already.


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