Tag: jargon

Buzzwords: platform effect

Monday, 23 May, 2016 0 Comments

As an occasional contribution to the language of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, this emerging Buzzwords lexicon is intended to explain the jargon of the, er, paradigm shift, that’s now underway in our sunlit digital mills. We’re starting with the so-called platform effect, by which intelligent enterprises create networks that link buyers and sellers of products and services and thereby make truckloads of money. Economists call this “enjoying returns to scale.”

“Facebook development tools encourage the creation of new features, services, and apps, which facilitate content distribution and stimulate innovation and new jobs.

It is estimated that the platform effect of Facebook in 2014 enabled $29bn of economic impact and 660,000 jobs globally.”

Source: Facebook’s global economic impact by United Ventures, a Milan-based venture capital firm.

The problem with the platform effect is that a handful of companies end up dominating their markets. For the powerful few, the rewards are obvious. For consumers, there are benefits as well in the form of greater convenience and lower costs, but the concentration of so much influence and wealth in so few hands is risky societally, financially and technologically. The solution? Convince or coerce or the platforms to allow collaborative innovation.


Glossolalia: Decacorns

Tuesday, 17 May, 2016 3 Comments

It’s the week of Pentecost, which is associated (Biblically) with “speaking in tongues,” a phenomenon linguists call glossolalia. So, in honour of all things lexical, we’re devoting this week’s posts to language. Yesterday, it was Singlish; today, it’s the turn of Valley vocabulary. The vocabulary of Silicon Valley, that is. In that vale of code, people speak of “dogfooding,” which means “using your own product or service internally as a way to validate its quality and capabilities.” According to digital lore, the word was coined in 1988 by David Cutler, who led the development of Windows NT, the basis of the modern Windows personal computer operating system.

Dogfooding is one of the many geeky terms in Valley Speak: Deciphering the Jargon of Silicon Valley by the husband-and-wife team of Rochelle Kopp and Steven Ganz. They had the very clever idea of funding the book via the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter, and 149 backers pledged $5,545 to help make their dream come true. By Valley standards, $5,545 a modest sum, but like those mighty oaks that from little acorns grow, many a unicorn started small. A unicorn, by the way, is a startup with a valuation of a billion dollars, but such is the torrid pace of the Valley that the unicorn is now giving way to the fabled “decacorn,” which has a $10 billion valuation. All this jargon is the by-product of technology, marketing and management guff and, along with reading Valley Speak, an entertaining way of keeping up with it is to watch HBO’s satire, Silicon Valley.


We need to dialogue around

Thursday, 14 April, 2016 0 Comments

dialogue around [phrasal verb]: to take part in a conversation to resolve a problem. Example: “Steve, we need to dialogue around your choice of office attire.”

The awful “dialogue around” is up there with “action” as a verb: “You can’t call her now. She’s actioning the deliverables.” The adjective “amped”, meaning to be excited about something, is in the same category: “They’re really amped about the new site.”

Business communications would be a lot easier if people dropped the jargon. On the other hand, if you want to speak “corporate”, the Center for Corporate Studies talks the talk of those who disintermediate, enthuse and incent.


So, let’s action that

Thursday, 31 March, 2016 1 Comment

The American linguist Arika Okrent wrote a book once and gave it a mouthful of a name: In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build A Perfect Language. On her YouTube channel, the videos have crisper titles: French Phrases Hidden in English Words, The Evolution of Dude and Why is English Spelling so Weird? Her latest offering tackles the dreaded management-speak and packs a lot of erudition into 3 minutes and 32 seconds.

A follow-up, we hope, will examine such current awfulness as “synergy”, “going forward”, “deliverables”, “empower”, “leverage” and, worst of all, the hideous habit of starting a sentence with the word “so.”