I was reading something Dave Seah wrote (davidseah.com; you may want to subscribe to him), and that got me thinking about basic things and definitions.
We’re all familiar with copywriters and editors. But what are they, really? In general, copy is text, though it’s usually used in a promotional manner. ‘Editing’ has a better description:
Editing is the process of selecting and preparing language, images, sound, video, or film through processes of correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications in various media.
A person who edits is called an editor.
Let’s boil that down:
Editing is the process of designing communication.
When you edit something, you’re designing it to fit objectives and requirements. What do you edit? Language, images, sound, video, or film? That’s all communication. As Wikipedia puts it:
Communication is a process of transferring information from one entity to another. Communication processes are sign-mediated interactions between at least two agents which share a repertoire of signs and semiotic rules. Communication is commonly defined as “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs”.
There are things we share with each-other: memes, shapes, sights, smells; other sensory stimuli. These can be wrapped as a whole and called ‘signs’. Some, like language, are incredibly rich and complex, while others are base and are shared by most humans. Some people have no access to certain signs.
A communication designer takes a message and designs it—readies it for a large, diverse audience and makes the message clear and understandable by encoding it with a variety of shared signs.