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Technical Editing / Information Design / Graphics Design
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Substantive Editing: Project Summary

The title and thesis of the document(s)

I am editing two related documents, both Web pages. The HTML titles of the two pages differ, although the first heading on both is “Exponential Assembly.” The pages are

  • Zyvex: Self Replication
    page no longer available)
  • Zyvex: Exponential Assembly
    (page no longer available)

The thesis of the documents is that sets of simple parts can be designed and manufactured in such a way that they can assemble each other at an exponential rate, once an initial set of parts have been assembled manually. To achieve the exponential rate, the initial set assembles another set, these two assemble two more, these four assemble four more, and so on until the sets are exhausted. The authors see this exponential assembly scheme as a stepping-stone to a fully self-replicating process.

The number of pages in the document

When printed from Internet Explorer using medium text size, the Self Replication paper is 11 pages and the Exponential Assembly document is 2 pages.

The reason for selecting the document

I found this paper while searching the Web for “white papers.” This paper caught my attention because a family member worked in the micro-electric mechanical systems (MEMS) industry.

Brief description of three substantive issues in this document

Three substantive issues in this document are use of inflated, imprecise language; failure to define terms when they are introduced; and misuse of passive voice.

An example of using inflated, imprecise language is, “The self-replicating entities of the biological arena are often used as an existence proof for the possibility and inevitability of self-replicating machinery.” The phrase “self-replicating entities of the biological arena” is unclear. It would be clearer if the authors name the entities by category. Do they mean to include or exclude viruses under this mantle? Do they mean to include one-celled life forms (such as protozoa)? Are there other categories? The sentence would be clearer if they used specific examples.

An example of failing to define terms when they are introduced is in the first sentence, “A replicative assembly methodology may be based on assembly stations each with two degrees of rotational freedom.” Although the authors discuss assembly stations throughout the paper, and use an example, the term is not defined in its general sense.

An example of misusing passive voice is in the caption of Figure 3a: “The rotational stages are labeled as are the gripper, handle, and attachment points.” The complex and passive structure of this sentence is unnecessary. It would be clearer and easier to read as, “The schematic shows the rotation stages, the gripper, the handle, and the attachment points.”

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