Cleartext; the editor to get us communicating again

Trump Demo
Trump Demo

After reading a post on Medium about a text editor that promised to change the world I had to go out there and have my piece of ‘change the world’. The question I had is why bother inventing another text editor when the internet is strewn with many failed attempts. We have the simple in standard notepad to the obtuse in Lyx, is there room for something else?

The answer is yes! A concise yes.

The text editor is Cleartext. Its claim to fame is really simple, it will only allow you to use the 1000 most common English words. Life in the corporate world will teach you that words are not worth the printed paper, the value is linked to the level of the speaker using them. It is a sad indictment when language bows heavily to boardroom speak. To succeed in the corporate world you have to learn insert company name speak. We forget that the reason we speak or write is to communicate not to obfuscate.  Based on that I decided any text editor that uses the 1000 most common words is worth a try.

I followed the requisite links and downloaded the Cleartext application for Mac. The installation was painless.

Cleartext icon

The application presented me with a ubiquitous icon ironically forming the meat in the Microsoft sandwich. The irony is heavy with this one.  After starting the application a very plain user interface that made notepad look busy presented itself – as starts go this was exceeding all my expectations.  The interface is  typing text with minimal feature creep or distractions. Just what you need for editing text.

Cleartext UI
Cleartext UI

Time to test drive Cleartext. To do that I decided to take a paragraph from the year-end results of a multinational company. The paragraph is part of the Chairman’s message to shareholders.

Emerging and developing economies emitted mixed signals during the year as global economic developments impacted them in varied and asymmetric ways. While India benefited significantly from lower global commodity prices to register substantive and stable economic recovery, Africa’s commodity driven economies struggled to cope with weakening prices and sharp depreciation of currencies in several markets. We clearly encountered contrasting environs in the two key geographies.

On first read that is simple enough and my brain does comprehend the basic message that parts of the company did well and other parts struggled. The nuances within corporate speak are however very much exposed when you run that paragraph through a text editor that only allows you to use 1000 of the most common words. The result in my opinion is:

Growing countries had different looks during the year as world wide changes hit them. India became richer because the things it buys became cheaper. The lower money spent helped India grow. In Africa, the countries need a lot of money from the things they sell but could only get a little. With the little bit of money the African countries were in pain. We saw that India had more money than Africa.

I think my paragraph tells the same story but paints a much different picture. The sharpness and reality are no longer hidden behind the beauty of language. If you want to give it a go, here are the most common words in the English language. If you do try it out share your results.

Image Source: boingboing.net

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