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For the lack of a word does the idea get misunderstood?

January 9, 2008

It seems we are brushing against new realms, new ideas and the fallout, new ways to do things. And yet we use old words and concepts to try to make some meaning for ourselves in these new realms. Those involved in blogging and twittering are sometimes at a loss explaining this new realm because how do you explain something so new that never stops changing.

I recently used the word ‘geekoid’ to explain how a program automatically setup a recorded TV show’s mpeg for streaming with a new http address. ‘Geek’ because it is using technology at the edge in a unique fashion and ‘oid’ because it sounds cool and as a suffix it means to form an adjective/noun with the sense of having the form or appearance of something related but not identical. It suggests that it is a cool use of technology but using TV technology that isn’t the same as we are used to. The program is Elgato’s EyeTV and its wi-fi access preference.

The word micro-blogging has appeared a few time recently to describe what twitter does. Users of twitter had just been calling it twittering, everybody who used this means to communicate easily understanding what it means. Micro-blogging seems to limit what it means.

One of the more interesting concepts is what credit unions do which is offering banking services. Who would understand them as offering credit unioning services? Our quest to make meaning of the new and redefining the old goes on. What seems to be taking shape with twittering is the quick sharing of concepts and ideas, off the cuff remarks that stick and begin to be used again and again until they find some small fashion of usage.

We as English users have a rich heritage of words to use, in fact probably more than most languages. But with 26 letters the capacity of understanding exactly what we say seems limited at times. I would suspect the challenge for bloggers/twitterers is to mold and message our communication not for the coolest of words but for the most understandable language. We shouldn’t be afraid to create something new or reuse words. We should not be persons of indolence.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2008 4:11 pm

    You are right, I think that the creation of new words and restructuring established definitions is one of the most powerful attributes of the English language.

    I love creating hybrid words. My writing teachers would probably drown me in a toilet if they heard some of the words that I have made up. But they can have so much power.

    In one word you can not only draw allusions to emotions but also define technology or complicated processes as long as the reader is starting from a similar perspective.

    But isn’t that the challenge with all writing?

    I once told Trey that I was Twitstalking him meaning that I was reading his twitters but far more ominously. I coined the term blogjacking to describe how a nefarious individual could create a blog using a credit union’s name to aid in phising (phishing itself is another made up word derived from the hacking underground).

    It is common to hear young people using terms like “friending” relating to the process of being online and finding friends to add to their myspace page. There is even a whole online dictionary of these terms on the UrbanDictionary. Just recently the word “Tase” got global press even though it is a derivitive of a made up word (Taser). “Don’t Tase me Bro!”

    I have been twisting my noodle trying to come up with an effective, single-word for describing “Credit Unioning” that makes it cooler and easier to say. That, in my opinion, will help to create the banner that would lead the charge of this revolution.

    We need a battle cry!

  2. January 10, 2008 9:53 pm

    all my linguistic theory/ postmodern antennae are tingling at your post! No time to get all philosophical in your comments but I’ll throw in – I frequently use the word “democratic” to swiftly convey a bit of the credit union ethos. Not new at all, but not a concept we REALLY think much about — could we reclaim it, sort of like the Elliott poem – coming back for the very first time?

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