robertogreco + jargon   23

Semantic Drain and the Meaninglessness of Modern Work
"Stop calling your social media manager a "guru""

"When I was on staff at the International Business Times in 2015, I had an editor who hated jargon. "If you use the word 'space,'" he said once, "you better fucking be talking about outer space." I did my part by creating a Jargon Jar. Into the jar clanked coins every time one of us used "content" or "space" or whatever dumb MBA or tech neologism had been handed to us by sources who sounded like—and were mostly nothing more than—hucksters."

[image: @Galadriel1971: "Trust is changing. Companies like Uber are changing the paradigm by distributing trust @rfordonsecurity @ForcepointSec #ForcepointCLF #cybersecurity @fedscooop"]

Really, jargon isn't all that far off from slang—vocabulary in use within a particular industry, as opposed to a more organic culture. Jargon is the reason air traffic control memes are funny in a bewildering sort of way; it is how an industry talks to itself, creating what feels like a subculture in an environment where the elements of real culture are often prohibited. The gradual creep of jargon outside of its intended industries, though, has heralded an even more unsettling linguistic phenomenon: semantic drain.

Languages mutate constantly; the meanings of words can shift dramatically over the course of just a few years. Take the word "stan," which came into popular use as a derogatory term for creepily obsessive fans thanks to an Eminem song about a creepily obsessed fan named Stan.* Creepily obsessed fans, offended, began to use the term themselves, ironically, and now usage in general is borderline positive. It's weird, and I'm not particularly happy about this particular change, but, well, what are you gonna do.

In the last four or five years, though, I have been seeing more and more words permeating the vernacular that do not have any real meaning—or, worse, words that once had a specific, tactile meaning being drained of that meaning by "corporate culture."

"Content" is the offender that springs most readily to mind. It's a catch-all now, hardly better than "stuff," for one-way communication: the listicle, the 6-second video, the 3,000-word article, the 45-minute video essay, the season of television. I use "content" as an insult, to designate writing I do that has no value. It's not the word's fault. Blame the steady descent of journalism into a hell where you're lucky to make $20 for a 300-word post, and the concomitant rise of advertising as the dominant form of communication in our world.

It's no longer enough to be a reporter, an editor—these titles carry with them the feel of specialization, as though their bearers are capable of doing "only" one thing. A "content strategist," though—that implies flexibility, a knowledge of a multitude of disciplines, the fortitude to work with brands, the ability to create video content that brings in far more ad dollars per 1,000 viewers than words alone on a web page.

You can see a couple different etymologies for this new usage. Most online publications have a content management system that contains text and photos and other elements used in stories; journalists love inflicting their jargon onto the public (I am as guilty of this as any). Or take juicy-mummy capitalist Sumner Redstone’s famous declaration that “Content is king”—referring to the actual content of a movie or TV series, as opposed to the delivery method or format. Journalists and analysts and people on television love quoting juicy mummies, and a game of linguistic telephone ensues.

That's how you go from the "contents may be hot" warning to people seriously talking about "content networks." You see the same phenomenon with "solution," "space," and "product;" with "brand," with "talent." The phrase "corporate culture" is a devilish oxymoronic weed, draining the word "culture" of all its vibrancy and significance. Companies offer “solutions” to problems that don’t exist, because there is no other way to describe that they are offering nothing of value. Even "trust" is being slowly marched toward the gaping maw of late-capitalistic semantic drain, thanks to companies like Facebook and Uber.

[image: "The Unlikely Rise of the Pastel de Nata, and Why It’s Suddenly Everywhere]

"Late-capitalistic semantic drain" sounds like its own uniquely hellish bullshit neologism. But I swear it does mean something: the lack of meaning spreading through English, driven by a corporate monoculture devoted solely to profit.

I have a hypothesis that this semantic drain is tied to the meaninglessness of modern work: These companies are co-opting words with tangible meanings and draining them of such to obscure the fact that they rarely produce anything of value to society, and that their employees are spending most of their waking hours performing labor with no meaning.

The plural of "anecdote" is hardly "data," but I find myself overwhelmed by the number of people in my social circle who are having constant work-related breakdowns, or who are chucking aside any notion of having a "career," because they have seen exactly how much of a crock of shit careerism is. That's aside from the number of people I know or have simply spoken to over the last several years who hate their job, who find waking up to go to their job an increasingly unbearable proposition even if it comes with "perks," even if they desperately need the health insurance. It's not just because their boss sucks, or their coworker eats their lunch: Everywhere in America—I won't speak to the rest of the world; but America, I've been all around—you will find people completely alienated from their labor. That is, they find no meaning in half their waking hours,** the ones they spend "working."

I put "working" in quotation marks because the kind of work I'm talking about isn't really work, is it? When you spend three business days creating a PowerPoint presentation using work done by someone else, only to be told by your boss that you fucked up by making the arrows blue instead of red, do you feel any sense of ownership of the thing you've created, or do you simply repeat to yourself that you need this job to make your student loan payments? When you're on your feet for 8 hours carefully re-folding t-shirts that shitty people looked at and then tossed on the floor like some naughty child, or being berated by someone whose credit card was declined thrice, do you feel as though you've "put in a hard day's work"—or that you've spent half your waking hours being slowly crushed by the weight of the service economy? This feels more like toil than work, doesn't it?

This isn't just a feeling held by me and a few of my more radical friends. Anthropologist David Graeber wrote an entire book on the subject of "Bullshit Jobs." Graeber talks a lot in this book about how most jobs are "pointless," and while objective pointlessness is a hallmark of a lot of modern work, I prefer to talk about meaninglessness, because a job can be objectively pointless but still have some meaning or non-monetary value for the person doing it; a job can also be objectively necessary and not provide any meaning to the person doing it. (Not everyone's cut out to be a nurse.)

William Morris' "Useful Work vs. Useless Toil" essay from the late 1800s shows that the Industrial Revolution was raising the specter of meaningless work, so this isn't exactly a brand-new phenomenon. "As to the hope of product, I have said that Nature compels us to work for that," Morris wrote. "It remains for us to look to it that we do really produce something, and not nothing, or at least nothing that we want or are allowed to use."

Yet modern white-collar work is often completely removed from any sort of end product; it's not hard to see why this distance results in a profound sense of alienation. That alienation is exacerbated when the end "product" is consulting services, or "financial services," or denying a person coverage for a medical procedure, or marketing materials that literally less than a dozen people outside the company will read.

[image: @mgoldst: "Design job description red flags:

"ninja"
"unicorn"
"high-pressure environment"
"magic"
"rock star"
"family"
"wear multiple hats"
"disrupt"
"earning potential"
"possibility of becoming full-time"
"guru"
"must know (insert ridiculously long list of stuff here)"]

To counteract this alienation, to obscure the fact that these jobs are, as Graeber points out, "pointless," HR departments and startup founders, in particular, have begun to co-opt plenty of perfectly fine words: "Rock star." "Family." "Guru." "Wizard." "Hero." All they really mean is that you need to have a working knowledge of some system or another and no sense of dignity. The job descriptions that involve these words are most frequently found in the tech sector.

"Looking for a rock star coder to join our family," the HR enchantress writes. "Must be a high-performer who wants to disrupt and can wear multiple hats in a fast-paced environment. Free meals and laundry service!"

This description really means the company wants control over every moment of your day, has no idea what it’s actually hiring you to do, and will never reward you for exceeding expectations, because firstly there aren’t any and secondly you’re supposed to be a rock star, and so should always be exceeding expectations as a matter of course. The HR enchantress is attempting to blind you to this reality with words for things you aspire to in your life, but which you will never achieve (rock star-dom, family), especially if you take this job at a company attempting to create an app that performs the emotional labor your mother used to perform (Mothr).

Let me reiterate: These job descriptions are meaningless because the jobs themselves have no meaning.

[image: @Lucas_Shaw: "Pretty odd to see Hulu, owned by companies with a combined $400B, welcoming "rebels" to a carefully orchestrated advertising event."]

This semantic drain goes far beyond… [more]
2019  orianaschwindt  language  jargon  siliconvalley  words  titles  absurdity  latecapitalism  hucksters  gurus  late-capitalisticsemanticdrain  semantics  work  labor  corporatism  corporations 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Contra* podcast — Mapping Access
"a podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, or play from our website."

[See also:
https://www.mapping-access.com/podcast/2018/12/29/episode-1-contra-design-with-sara-hendren

"In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Show notes and transcription

++++

Themes:

Critical Design

Theory of critical design revised by disability

Writing as/part of critical design

Disability politics in relation to design

Translational work and science communication; critical design as a “friendly Trojan horse”

Things as an index of ideas

STEAM, knowledge, and power

Links:

Sara Hendren (https://sarahendren.com)

Abler blog (https://ablersite.org/)

Adaptation and Ability Lab (http://aplusa.org/)

Wendy Jacob and Temple Grandin, Squeeze Chair (https://patient-innovation.com/post/1047?language=en)

Sketch Model project at Olin College (http://www.olin.edu/collaborate/sketch-model/)

Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/253076.Tools_for_Conviviality)

Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (https://www.dukeupress.edu/Meeting-the-Universe-Halfway/)

Aimi Hamraie, Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/building-access)

++++

Introduction Description:

The podcast introductory segment is composed to evoke friction. It begins with sounds of a wheelchair rhythmically banging down metal steps, the putter of an elevator arriving at a person’s level, and an elevator voice saying “Floor two, Floor three.” Voices begin to define Contra*. Layered voices say “Contra is friction…Contra is…Contra is nuanced…Contra is transgressive…Contra is good trouble…Contra is collaborative…Contra is a podcast!…Contra is a space for thinking about design critically…Contra is subversive…Contra is texture…”

An electric guitar plays a single note to blend out the sound.

The rhythmic beat of an electronic drum begins and fades into the podcast introduction.

++++

Episode Introduction:

Welcome to Contra*: the podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. This show is about the politics of accessible and critical design—broadly conceived—and how accessibility can be more than just functional or assistive. It can be conceptual, artful, and world-changing.

I’m your host, Aimi Hamraie .  I am a professor at Vanderbilt University, a designer and design researcher, and the director of the Critical Design Lab, a multi-institution collaborative focused on disability, technology, and critical theory.  Members of the lab collaborate on a number of projects focused on hacking ableism, speaking back to inaccessible public infrastructures, and redesigning the methods of participatory design—all using a disability culture framework. This podcast provides a window into the kinds of discussions we have within the lab, as well as the conversations we are hoping to put into motion. So in coming episodes, you’ll also hear from myself and the other designers and researchers in the lab, and we encourage you to get in touch with us via our website, www.mapping-access.com or on Twitter at @criticaldesignl

In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Sara and I talk about her work in the fields of critical design and assistive technology, including how she came to this work, how she is thinking about strategy and practice, and also her current work on bridging the humanities with STEM education."]
accessibility  disability  aimihamraie  ableism  podcasts  disabilitystudies  criticaldesign  olincollege  assistivetechnology  technology  poeticcreation  creativity  sarahendren  ivanillich  toolsforconviviality  wendyjacob  templegrandin  stem  knowledge  power  karenbarad  adaptation  materialculture  socialimagination  art  design  thinking  inclusivity  capitalism  howwewrite  howwethink  making  communication  academia  scholarship  ethics  politics  difference  jargon  language 
january 2019 by robertogreco
The Tangled Language of Jargon | JSTOR Daily
"What our emotional reaction to jargon reveals about the evolution of the English language, and how the use of specialized terms can manipulate meaning."



"How Jargon Can Exclude and Obscure

It turns out that, far from being objective, jargon—outwardly a sober, professional kind of talk for experts from different occupational fields—has always carried with it some very human impulses, placing power and prestige over knowledge. A doctor, for example, might inappropriately use jargon in explaining a diagnosis to a patient, which prevents the patient from participating in their own care. This quality of jargon attracts those that might want to obscure biases, beef up simplistic ideas, or even hide social or political embarrassments behind a slick veneer of seemingly objective, “scientific” language without being challenged.

Latinate forms happen to lend themselves well to new terminology like this, especially technical jargon, for those very perceptions of precision and prestige, as well as detachment. But this detachment comes with a price. The alienness and incomprehensibility of new jargon words we’re unfamiliar with might sometimes make us a mite uncomfortable. It can sound inauthentic, compared to other innovative language change, from slang to secret languages. There are all kinds of innovative speech used by certain groups not just to share information easily, or to talk about new ideas, but also to show belonging and identity—and to keep outsiders out.

It’s one of the reasons people hate jargon with a passion and have been railing against it for years, centuries even. H. W. Fowler called it “talk that is considered both ugly-sounding and hard to understand.” L.E. Sissman is a little more subtle. Sissman defines jargon as “all of these debased and isolable forms of the mother tongue that attempt to paper over an unpalatable truth and/or to advance the career of the speaker (or the issue, cause or product he is agent for) by a kind of verbal sleight of hand, a one-upmanship of which the reader or listener is victim.”

Jargon, as useful as it is in the right contexts, can end up being socially problematic and divisive when it hides and manipulates meanings from those who need to receive the information. This negative reception hasn’t stopped jargon that apes scientific language from being widely produced, by economists, academics, entrepreneurs, journalists… and probably even poets. Jargon has now become the devil’s corporate middle management’s language, making information harder to share and receive. It has seeped into almost every facet of a complex modern life, giving us new buzzwords not even a mother could love, with terms like self-actualization, monetize, incentivize, imagineering, onboarding, synergize, and the like. And there’s so much more where that came from.

When Jargon Becomes Dangerous

William D. Lutz talks about how jargon and doublespeak can often be carefully designed to cover up embarrassing or secret information. For example, a commercial airline that had a 727 crash, killing three passengers, was able to pass off the resulting three million dollar insurance profit on its books as “the involuntary conversion of a 727,” which was unlikely to be questioned by confused shareholders whose eyes would probably have glazed over from the cumbersome legal jargon.

Words aren’t equal just because they mean the same thing, especially when the stakes are high. It’s not simply a matter of knowing or not knowing the meaning of these words, or if they accurately describe facts, but what Sally McConnell-Ginet calls the conceptual or cultural baggage, the hidden background assumptions the language carries with them, the ‘ologies and ‘isms that pretend to be something they’re not. Most recently in politics, the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings showed how deftly legal terminology can be wielded to avoid or plausibly deny or confuse clear facts. For example, denying knowledge of stolen documents is literally not a lie if you steadfastly assume they aren’t stolen, despite textual evidence to the contrary. The statement “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land” literally defers to a fact, the meaning of which is true. The conceptual baggage the statement carries with it, however, strongly suggests the writer does not disagree with the opinion.

Linguist Dwight Bolinger suggests that this is exactly the kind of heinous abuse of meaning that makes linguistic activism critical, shining a spotlight on these egregious cases where lies are hidden by omission or avoidance of the truth in jargon, euphemism, doublespeak, and other linguistic trickery."
jargon  language  specialization  2018  chiluu  communication  manipulation  english  synonyms  williamlutz  georgeorwell  styleguides  writing  linguistics  words 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Nicky Case: Seeing Whole Systems - The Long Now
"Nicky Case is an independent game developer who creates interactive games and simulations including Parable of the Polygons (02014), Coming Out Simulator (02014), We Become What We Behold (02016), To Build A Better Ballot (02016), and LOOPY (02017).



Nicky Case’s presentations are as ingenious, compelling, and graphically rich as the visualizing tools and games Nicky creates for understanding complex dynamic systems.

Case writes: “We need to see the non-linear feedback loops between culture, economics, and technology. Not only that, but we need to see how collective behavior emerges from individual minds and motives. We need new tools, theories, and visualizations to help people talk across disciplines.”

Nicky Case is the creator of Parable of the Polygons (02014), Coming Out Simulator (02014), We Become What We Behold (02016), To Build A Better Ballot (02016), and LOOPY (02017).



How to finesse complexity

HE BEGAN, “Hi, I’m Nicky Case, and I explain complex systems in a visual, tangible, and playful way.” He did exactly that with 207 brilliant slides and clear terminology. What system engineers call “negative feedback,” for example, Case calls “balancing loops.” They maintain a value. Likewise “positive feedback” he calls “reinforcing loops.” They increase a value

Using examples and stories such as the viciousness of the board game Monopoly and the miracle of self-organizing starlings, Case laid out the visual basics of finessing complex systems. A reinforcing loop is like a ball on the top of a hill, ready to accelerate downhill when set in motion. A balancing loop is like a ball in a valley, always returning to the bottom of the valley when perturbed.

Now consider how to deal with a situation where you have an “attractor” (a deep valley) that attracts a system toward failure:

[image]

The situation is precarious for the ball because it is near a hilltop that is a reinforcing loop. If the ball is nudged over the top, it will plummet to the bottom of the balancing-loop valley and be stuck there. It would take enormous effort raise the ball out of such an attractor—which might be financial collapse or civil war. Case’s solution is not to try to move the ball, MOVE THE HILLS—identify the balancing and reinforcing loops in the system and weaken or strengthen them as needed to reconfigure the whole system so that the desired condition becomes the dominant attractor.

Now add two more characteristics of the real world—dense networks and chaos (randomness). They make possible the phenomena of emergence (a whole that is different than the sum of its parts) and evolution. Evolution is made of selection (managed by reinforcing and balancing loops) plus variation (unleashed by dense networks and chaos). You cannot control evolution and should not try--that way lies totalitarianism. Our ever popular over-emphasis on selection can lead to paralyzed systems—top-down autocratic governments and frozen businesses. Case urges attention to variation, harnessing networks and chaos from the bottom up via connecting various people from various fields, experimenting with lots of solutions, and welcoming a certain amount of randomness and play. “Design for evolution,” Case says, “and the system will surprise you with solutions you never thought of.”

To do that, “Make chaos your friend.”

--Stewart Brand"
systems  systemsthinking  nickycase  2017  illustration  visualization  longnow  maps  mapping  stewartbrand  games  gaming  gamedesign  capitalism  socialism  monopoly  economics  technology  culture  precarity  chaos  networks  evolution  socialtrust  voting  design  complexity  abstraction  communication  jargon  unknown  loopiness  alinear  feedbackloops  interconnectedness  dataviz  predictions  interconnected  nonlinear  linearity  interconnectivity 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Sprinting From Google — True North
"In 2016 a design partner from Google Ventures (GV), Jake Knapp, released a book called Sprint. The book introduced the idea of Design Sprints, a concept that had existed within Google for several years and was a mainstay in the toolset employed by GV with their portfolio of companies.

The beauty of Jake’s book is that it is very specific, there is even a 15-page checklist for when you are running your own Design Sprints. This however did not stop a swathe of folks from appropriating the name, but not the core ideas. What this in turn meant is that acts were being committed under the name of Design Sprint but were not even remotely close to what Jake describes in Sprint.

In this episode we dive into what Design Sprints really are, address their detractors and we visit the enterprise giant, Aus Post, where they ran 4 sprints in 5 weeks."
jakeknapp  2017  design  designsprints  2016  language  words  appropriation  dilution  howwework  simplification  trendiness  fads  jargon 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Plastic Words — davidcayley.com
"In his book Deschooling Society (1971), Ivan Illich briefly alluded to a class of words "so flexible that they cease to be useful." "Like an amoeba," he said, "they fit into almost any interstice of the language." Two years later, in Tools for Conviviality, Illich wrote that language had come to "reflect the monopoly of the industrial mode of production over perception and motivation." He urged " rediscovery of language" as a personal and poetic medium. But Illich made no detailed analysis of how language had been industrialized. Then, in 1981, he became one of the first group of fellows at the new Wissenschaftkolleg, or Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin. Among his colleagues was Uwe Pörksen, a professor of German literature from the University of Freiburg. The two became friends, and one of the things they discussed was the empty word husks that Illich had first called amoebas. Pörksen renamed them plastic words and undertook a detailed study of the phenomenon, Seven years later in 1988, he published Plastikwörter: Die Sprache einer Internationalen Diktatur (The Language of an International Dictatorship.)

Pörksen argued that plastic words are not merely the clichés, slogans and hackneyed expressions against which commentators like George Orwell ("Politics and the English Language") or James Thurber ("The Psychosemanticist Will See You Now, Mr. Thurber") had railed. They form a distinct class, numbering not many more than thirty or forty. The list includes obviously puffed up words like communication, sexuality, and information, but also less obtrusive terms like problem, factor, and role. Together, Pörksen says, they compose a Lego-like, modular lingo which bulldozes all the merely local and historical features of language and paves the way to the shining city of universal development.

I learned of Pörksen's work from Illich, when I went to State College, Pennsylvania to record interviews with Illich in 1988. At the time, it had briefly become the playful custom in his household to ostentatiously clear one's throat whenever one found it necessary to pronounce a plastic word. I was intrigued and eager to present Pörksen's research to my Canadian radio audience, but there were several problems: his book wasn't translated, I didn't speak German, and Pörksen had only limited English. My German-born wife, Jutta Mason, solved the first problem by making a rough translation of the German text, and, in time, as we got to know each other, Uwe agreed to attempt the interview. It was recorded in Barbara Duden's house in Bremen in 1992. Jutta joined us, to boost Uwe's confidence and help with translation as needed, but, in the event, the occasion seemed to inspire a rudimentary but powerful eloquence in Uwe, and no translation was needed.

The edited interview, which follows, was broadcast on Ideas early in 1993. Jutta's translation also became the basis for an English edition, pictured above, of Plastic Words. Uwe came and stayed with us for a week in Toronto, and he and Jutta and I together worked over the English text, until it was ready for publication by the Penn State Press in 1995. Good reviews never led to much of a readership for a book that I think deserves to be better known, but it remains available."
davidcayley  deschooling  ivanillich  2017  toolsforconviviality  unschooling  jargon  meaning  language  uwepörksen  1993  1988  georgeorwell  jamesthurber  communication  clarity  conviviality 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Still Water blog · Personal Touch: Joanne McNeil on Digital Intimacy
"The Thoma award is intended to “promote understanding of digital art,” and it’s easy to see why the jury chose McNeil for this mission. Neither fanboy nor pedant, she puts thoughts into words that are clear yet nuanced, unencumbered by the jargon that weighs down so much scholarship.

Many of her essays pivot on a concrete detail: a broken iPhone screen, a photo of the Eiffel tower, an unlikely 3d puzzle available on a Chinese ecommerce site. These grains of digital texture aren’t haphazard observations, floating by like Facebook posts about a delicious breakfast or pretty sunset. They are tiny gateways to understanding the unseen forces busily automating society, unseen because they are too vast to grasp except on a global scale, or because they are too intimate to experience except subliminally. Forces surveyed in McNeil’s essays include Twitter algorithms that encourage stalking and automated birthday notices that turn anniversaries into occasions for harassment.

Among my favorite essays is “iPhone Dreams,” precipitated by McNeil’s discovery of a website displaying imagined renderings of what was soon to become the Apple phone. The site compiles unofficial mockups that ordinary artists and designers concocted in October of 2006, shortly after news broke that Apple had struck a deal with a phone company. Unlike the elegant touchscreen slab that Apple would eventually unveil, these clunky, button-cluttered prototypes look more like iPods–or even Princess phones–revealing how our imaginations can be shackled to the past. (The first tractors were equipped with leather reins so farmers could get used to steering them.) Despite its ostensible critique of tech forecasters and Apple groupies, “iPhone Dreams” ends in a confession of infatuation by the author as well. When she eventually gets her hands on the real phone, she brings it to sleep with her, concluding, “I have to remember to put it down.”

McNeil’s confessional tone can be infectious–it gives us readers permission to consider whether we’ve felt parallel digital dreads or desires. But her confessions have a purpose beyond titillation or gossip. She reminds us that the feminist adage “the personal is political” also applies to personal computing, whether in an essay written with Astra Taylor on the industry’s historically inaccurate bias towards the mansplaining “Dads of Tech,” or in a remark on how search engines have changed the meaning of the word “search,” whose original connotation of longing has been demurely expunged to leave only the objective act of research.

The latter insight comes from her catalogue essay for the exhibition “Touch To Feel,” in which McNeil astutely notes how gestural interfaces like tablets and smartphones have similarly consigned touch, our most carnal sense, to the role of a pragmatic intermediary:

The word ‘touch’ is likewise recalibrated, with a focus on the motion of touching rather than sensing the texture of something. The uniformly smooth surface of a ‘touch interface’ has no friction. Touch is never the point of a digital experience, not the way that code is written for us to hear or see. We touch surfaces that do not tug back or prick our fingers. We touch to alter images, to turn the volume down. We touch to engage other senses.

It’s tempting to blame digital tools for stripping away the sensuous meanings of these formerly hot-blooded verbs. Is there a deliberate corporate agenda here, to refocus our erotic attention on nouns that can be bought and sold–like the facts returned by a Google search, or the iPhone we cozy up next to in bed? McNeil doesn’t sermonize on this point; she opens the door and lets us walk through on her own. She has, as we say, a light touch.

We need more writers who can draw our attention to the intimate dimensions of the gadgets that have cozened their way onto our wrists and into our pant pockets. Enough of my mansplaining–go read her yourself."
joannemcneil  writing  nuance  digital  astrataylor  technology  2015  newmedia  jonippolito  experience  jargon  scholarship  academia  accessibility 
june 2015 by robertogreco
CODE OF CONDUCT - sfpc.hackpad.com
"Purpose:
Better articulate the values of the community and encourage collaboration within the space. We want to create a safe space for all SFPC members. 

For this conversation, we will collaboratively develop a Code of Conduct 
• What do we want to create? 
◦ community, interactive projects, 
◦ respectful communication 
▪ (being empathetic, listening)
▪ room for direct communication; honesty 
▪ Explicit/ Descriptive /   
▪ using constructive criticism - "be tough on ideas, not people"
◦ a shared experience
◦ Relationships of trust
◦ a space that celebrates making
• How do we make this an internationally welcoming environment?
◦ be patient, listen
◦ ask questions; be receptive to questions
◦ be conscious of your language
• Create a space where everyone's opinions are valid, no hesitation in asking questions, welcoming of all skillsets


Our suggestions:
• Work openly
◦ sharing, collaborative documents, transparency
◦ "what's said here stays here and what's learned here leaves here"
• Be generous
• What you put into this you will get out of it; full-time participation
• Speak with respect, assume the most respectful interpretation 
• Step up, step back

Principles of Conversation (via andrew zolli)
• Together we know more
• tough on ideas, gentle on people
• avoid jargon (unfamiliar language)
• threads beat points (making a thread, connect the dots)
• proceed with generosity

Unacceptable Behaviors:
• Violence, threats of violence or violent language directed against another person.
• Sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise discriminatory jokes and language.
• Posting or displaying sexually explicit or violent material nonconsensually. 2
• Personal insults, particularly those related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or disability.
• Inappropriate physical contact. You should have someone’s consent before touching them.
• Unwelcome sexual attention. This includes, sexualized comments or jokes; inappropriate touching, groping, and unwelcomed sexual advances.
• Deliberate intimidation, stalking or following (online or in person).
• Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior.

Zach, Taeyoon, Allison, Casey and Tega are available to discuss any sort of unwelcome behavior and will work towards a resolution."
codeofconduct  sfpc  constructivecriticism  allisonburch  behavior  community  generosity  transparency  sharing  andrewzolli  communication  collaboration  honesty  relationships  trust  patience  listening  conversation  jargon  2015  schoolforpoeticcomputation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Internet of What Exactly? | mjays.net by Martin Spindler
"With the Internet of Things gaining in media presence, big corporations realise that there’s something going on that they have no real stake in yet. And they come out rushing. Mostly, that’s in conjunction with creating a new term for that thing that nobody has a solid definition of, so they can own the space. Given that, here’s a quick, tongue-in-cheek primer of what corporations mean when they rebrand the Internet of Things:

The Industrial Internet (GE):
We’re talking about the Internet of really big Things

The Internet of Everything (Cisco):
If everything has an address, it’s like the Internet, but with everything on it

Industry 4.0 (Siemens):
The Internet is like steam – in that we’re thinking about how it affects our machines.

Internet of Customers (Salesforce):
It’s really interesting how your warranty claim is contradicted by your usage pattern.

M-2-M:
We’re putting our SCADA Systems online.

Social Web of Things (Ericsson):
Your toaster wants to be your friend!

Embedded Internet (Intel):
Yay, Microchips Everywhere!

Hyperconnectivity (WEF):
We hear this internet thing is really good at what we used to be good at.

Networked Matter (IFTF):
Because how are we going to act on the world if our brains are uploaded to machines after the singularity?

Web of Things (W3C):
There’s always room for one more standard.

Web Squared (O’Reilly):
Your Information Shadow isn’t restricted to Web 2.0 anymore.

I hope this clears things up. Oh, and if you come across more creative new names for IoT, please do let me know!"
internetofthings  terminology  jargon  corporations  2014  martinspindler  via:anne  iot 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Six pieces of wisdom (and one heap of nonsense) | Industry Voice | Design Week
[1] Milton Glaser said, ‘Just enough is more’ …

[2] Howard Aitken said, ‘Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats’

Too much design is style passing for ideas. Stylishness is easy sell because it’s undemanding and nice to have. Intelligent, boat-rocking ideas are harder to conjure up and more difficult to sell because they drag people into their discomfort zone. They take risks, challenge assumptions and take advantage of the unexpected.

[3] Bob Gill said, ‘Each one of my jobs is about things people could have seen themselves if they bothered to look’ …

[4] Larry Smith said, ‘Constraints fuel rather than limit our creativity’ …

[5] Jan Kaplický said, ’It’s not a sign of creativity to have sixty-five ideas for one problem. It’s just a waste of energy’ …

[6] Alan Fletcher said, ‘You’re just pissing about’ …

[one heap of nonsense] ‘…continual optimisation activity…direct unequivocal propositions… convergent tangible context…universal functionality…competitive brandscape analysis…indispensible secret agents of engagement’

This sort of contrived, overblown and self-important nonsense does our industry no good at all. It gives the impression we’ve got something to hide. We’re supposed to be communicators, so let’s say what we mean – and mean what we say. David Ogilvy said, ’Never use jargon words like reconceptualise, demassification, attitudinally, judgementally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass’."
design  via:litherland  miltonglaser  howardaiken  bobgill  larrysmith  jankaplicky  alanfletcher  simplicity  ideas  cv  jargon  language  contraints  creativity  efficiency  stylishness  style 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Winkleman Gallery - Shane Hope
"In Hope’s own words, “So run this, for here’s how you in the form of pathetic-prophetic techno-poetics for reals forge future’s futures: nano-nonobjective-oriented ontographic scribblin’ on scriptable-scalable species-tool-beings quacker-castin’ computronium-clouds of kilo-IQ’d collablobject-oriented co-op-corporeal commons-clusters playborin’ with post-scarcity percept-pus and prescient-peek-a-boo public-panopticon-powdered plunderware-portraiture of plans for playborground ball pits of pure operationality all about atomic admin access-privs picturesque grey-gooplexus-thunkuppetrees qubit-built-quiltin’ algorithmicracked-out junk-DNAnarch-keys to un-nanoblockonomic-lock fine-joules-bots that gots-lots-o-watts spinformation-supportin’ scenariopolist rapturama-root abundance-heck-tech-wreckonomical enzymin’-rhymin’ chmodder-fodder for smartdustormin’ mass-mod-mood-meds runnin’ on you runnin’ on hyper-necker-deathcubes quture-sporecastin’ syncthetic smartificially-exprisoned empathologically-infacteous connectivitis-cognitariats called upon to camouflage the protocol-onization of everythingyness upwhen on a lifefile::path towards a mass2sapient-ratiocracy gettin’ smartfaced and uploaded addin’ add-ons off your overclocker rocker perv’d POV-vapor Xmit rights to far edge soylent green tea party uploadside your headers of bequestorbot blobjecthoodlumist bucky-luck-lock logicages-gates computtin’ uh handicrafted e-cap in your app-portential meat-splaced-out smartmatter of nanofacturally date-stampeded data-debased nDiagrammatic copylution-commodity cross sections of compound cutaway exploded view shish ka-bombs higher-ordermensionally hackin’-hockin’ chem-phlegm loogie-loggin’ one man bandwidth’d biochippin’ off the old-bad-blocks-bunchallianced punchin’ the overclockin’ cached-advanced chronoughty pathetic-prophetic techno-poetic cognitive haze phraseologies pharmosomally flocusin’ femtofactured-fluidentifried-fleshionistas fee-willin’ click-fraud false-flag-phishin’ for masstaken-iPlentities so omega-pointless slashdot-to-dot-subthreaded by buy/cellutility-swarms of soul-splinterferin’ spaculativernaculareerin’ sumplace skiddie snarfin’ sporgery zombie noo-zoos transubstrationally timeshearin’-taggin’ envirornamentally-challenged infomorphiliac-biorouters backscatterin’ bloodstream-slummin’-it up hick-hackenstantial thought barrier robber barons’ sapient-sopper see-source-serum sci-fi-lustratin’ morph-feral-foglet-fabbed fertilizer for fornicode for misalignment-matter mogul mashmobsters manipulatin’ malfoamational monay-yay markets for metacompetitive metabolisms of things-executin’-things-executin’-things-executin’-things…”"

[via: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2013/04/nonobjective-oriented-ontographs-and-qubit-built-quilts/ ]
art  shanehope  language  humor  jargon  babble  gibberish 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Rediscovering Literacy [Way too much here, quotes are from only the beginning]
"Literacy used to be a very subtle concept that meant linguistic sophistication. It used to denote a skill that could be developed to arbitrary levels of refinement through practice.  Literacy meant using mastery over language — both form and content — to sustain a relentless and increasingly sophisticated pursuit of greater meaning. It was about an appreciative, rather than instrumental use of language. Language as a means of seeing rather than as a means of doing…

The written form itself was merely a convenience…

Before Gutenberg, you demonstrated true literacy not by reading a text out aloud and taking down dictation accurately, but through exposition and condensation.

You were considered literate if you could take a classic verse and expound upon it at length (exposition) and take an ambiguous idea and distill its essence into a terse verbal composition (condensation)…

the fundamental learned behaviors that constitute literacy, not reading and writing…"

[Update: Adding the final portion to this bookmark]

"This might sound like engineering elitism, but I find that the only large classes of people who appear to actually think in clearly literate ways today are mathematicians and programmers. But they typically only do so in very narrow domains.

To learn to think with language, to become literate in the sense of linguistically sophisticated, you must work hard to unlearn everything built on the foundation of literacy-as-reading-and-writing.

Because modern education is not designed to produce literate people. It is designed to produce programmable people. And this programmability requires less real literacy with every passing year. Today, genuinely literate reading and writing are specialized arts. Increasingly, even narrowly instrumental read-write literacy is becoming unnecessary (computers can do both very well).

These are not stupid people. You only have to listen to a child delightedly reciting supercalifragilisticexpialidocious or indulging in other childish forms of word-play to realize that raw skill with language is a native capability in the human brain. It must be repressed by industrial education since it seeks natural expression.

So these are not stupid people. These are merely ordinary people who have been lobotomized via the consumerization of language, delivered via modern education.

We dimly realize that we have lost something. But appreciation for the sophistication of oral cultures mostly manifests itself as mindless reverence for traditional wisdom. We look back at the works of ancients and deep down, wonder if humans have gotten fundamentally stupider over the centuries.

We haven’t. We’ve just had some crucial meme-processing software removed from our brains.

Towards a Literacy Renaissance

This is one of the few subjects about which I am not a pessimist. I believe that something strange is happening. Genuine literacy is seeing a precarious rebirth.

The best of today’s tweets seem to rise above the level of mere bon mots (“gamification is the high-fructose corn syrup of user engagement”) and achieve some of the cryptic depth of esoteric verse forms of earlier ages.

The recombinant madness that is the fate of a new piece of Internet content, as it travels, has some of the characteristics of the deliberate forms of recombinant recitation practiced by oral culture.

The comments section of any half-decent blog is a meaning factory.

Sites like tvtropes.org are sustaining basic literacy skills.

The best of today’s stand-up comics are preserving ancient wordplay skills.

But something is still missing: the idea that literacy is a cultivable skill. That dense, terse thoughts are not just serendipitous finds on the discursive journeys of our brains, but the product of learnable exposition and condensation skills.

I suppose paying attention to these things, and actually attempting to work with archaic forms like maxims and aphorisms in 2012 is something of a quixotic undertaking. When you can store a terbayte of information (about 130,000 books, or about 50% larger than a typical local public library) on a single hard-disk words can seem cheap.

But try reading some La Rochefoucauld, or even late hold outs like Oliver Wendell Holmes and J. B. S. Haldane, and you begin to understand what literacy is really about. The cost of words is not the cost of storing them or distributing, but the cost of producing them. Words are cheap today because we put little effort into their production, not because we can store and transmit as much as we like.

It is as yet too early to declare a literacy renaissance, but one can hope."
production  jbshaldane  oliverwendellholmes  larochefoucauld  words  aphorisms  comprehension  jargon  wisdom  knowledge  banter  citation  correspondence  conversation  self-indulgence  technology  printing  web  content  composition  civilization  memorization  oralculture  creativedestruction  recitation  history  highculture  popculture  culture  internet  education  2012  gutenberg  text  understanding  condensation  exposition  literacy  communication  language  writing  reading  venkateshrao  unschooling  deschooling  moderneducation  schools 
september 2012 by robertogreco
New Year’s Resolutions : 2¢ Worth
"1. I will accept that I may no longer be a believer—Over the years, I have been gradually, & not w/out resistance, losing my faith. I am afraid that I may no longer believe in education. There is no problem w/ education. Education is the problem. Our goal is preparing our children for their future, & I am becoming convinced that education—our belief in education—is preventing us from accomplishing that goal.

2. I will avoid, at all (most) costs, using the following words: education, student, technology, teach, teacher

3. I will try, at all costs, to speak plaining & to clearly paint pictures for what I am striving to convey. If we agree that “it takes a village to teach a child,” then we need to be speaking in villagese, not schoolese.

4. I will more aggressively & compellingly speak out against standardized testing & to direct conversations twrd alternatives…standardized, high-stakes testing has done far more harm to more children than all the social networks on planet."

[via: http://santafelead.org/2010/11/never-mind-the-toys/ ]
davidwarlick  change  education  learning  schooling  schooliness  teaching  pedagogy  edtech  teminology  jargon  standardizedtesting  highstakes  testing  unschooling  deschooling  gamechanging  words  resolutions  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Language Log: Hed, dek, lede, graf, tk: live with it
"The legend is that the strange spellings of these words were developed in order to help distinguish meta-journalistic comments in copy (e.g. "dek tk") from the stuff that's meant to be printed. I have no idea whether that's true. But several of these terms are useful, however spelled. In particular, dek/deck and lede/lead don't really have any good alternatives; and graf and hed are conveniently reduced forms of paragraph and headline; and tk is a lot more succinct than "to be supplied at some point in the future", or whatever.
english  jargon  journalism  language  abbreviations  spelling  misspellings 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Waxy.org: Abort, Retry, or EPIC FAIL
"knee-jerk contrarians on Internet...nothing new...as old as communication itself...moment man discovered fire...some guy nearby saying, "Too smoky. Can burn you. Lame."
criticism  etiquette  internet  twitter  language  jargon  memes  online  trends  culture  FAIL 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: "Literacy" Considered Harmful
"I think we're well past the point in this community where use of the word "literacy" is helpful in communicating one's meaning. It is a crutch, a cliche. If everyone would stop using that word we'd be forced to be more clear about our ideas."
language  literacy  clarity  writing  jargon 
october 2007 by robertogreco
plsj tumblelog - quote from Participation: The New Tyranny
""This volume unmasks the moral tyranny imposed through the language of participation which has come to dominate the discourse of ‘devspeak‘. In exploring participatory practices from several points of view — social psychology, sociology of management, Goffman‘s analysis of social performance, Foucauldian analysis of discourses and their power - it shows how radical and democratic language may be co-opted with the aim of bringing people‘s views and expectations into line with the plans devised, with their participation, by their betters. Makes a vital contribution to the sociology of development."

Just replace “dev” and “development” with “tech” and “technology” and we’ve got an interesting take on all this Web 2.0 madness. Oh yeah, and the book is called Participation: The New Tyranny?"
language  power  management  administration  jargon  decisionmaking  technology  ideas  persuasion  words 
may 2007 by robertogreco
Sentient Developments: Must-know terms for the 21st Century intellectual: Redux
"There are terms from computer science, cosmology, neuroscience, environmentalism, sociology, biotechnology, philosophy, astrobiology, political science, and many other fields."
concepts  ecology  futurism  ideas  jargon  philosophy  science  scifi  society  sociology  technology  trends  words  education  reference  future  biology  dictionary  identity  lists  language  sousveillance  terms  theory  world  ethics  ai  intelligence  dictionaries 
january 2007 by robertogreco
Sentient Developments: Must know terms for today's intelligentsia
"Today's intelligentsia, in order to qualify for such a designation, must have the requisite vocabulary with which to address valid social concerns and effectively assess the future."
concepts  ecology  futurism  ideas  jargon  philosophy  science  scifi  society  sociology  technology  trends  words  education  reference  future  biology  dictionary  identity  lists  language  sousveillance  terms  theory  world  ethics  ai  intelligence  dictionaries 
january 2007 by robertogreco
T9onym - Wikipedia
"A T9onym is a word that shows up on mobile phones that have T9 text entry that is equivalent through T9 to other words. "
language  technology  mobile  phones  slang  textonyms  t9  texting  keyboards  keypads  sms  jargon  text  messaging  english  writing 
january 2007 by robertogreco
Wordie: Like Flickr, but without the photos
"Wordie lets you make lists of words -- practical lists, words you love, words you hate, whatever -- and then see who else has listed the same words, and talk about them."
folksonomy  language  words  writing  jargon  lists  lingo  social  linguistics  share  collections 
december 2006 by robertogreco
Buzzwords say all the wrong things - Signal vs. Noise (by 37signals)
quoting Einstein: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”
language  words  jargon  business  communication  marketing  society  technology  writing  speech 
september 2006 by robertogreco

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