Archive for May, 2007

Slough Off the Cruft

May 21, 2007

A few more observations about overused words mentioned in David Meerman Scott’s blog post Gobbledygook Manifesto. By the way, his book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, is coming in June. I’ve seen an advance copy – lots of information and ideas on building networks (and customers) via blogs and RSS.

IT’S LAME

“World class.”

The term seems to suggest that, no matter where the reader lives, there is always somewhere else in the world where everyone has higher standards than “us undiscerning schmucks that live right here.” Once upon a time, “world class” indicated that the product or product design was viable on more than one continent. Then it became a favorite edit-in adjective to imply that the product or service is so great that it ought to be deemed the standard of the world. Result of overuse: it’s almost as trite as “super.”

“Easy to use.” Yep, nothing’s hard.

IT’S GAME

“Cruft.”

It signifies anything unpleasant that accumulates over time. As in dust under the bed. You could use it to describe an efficiency-stealing bad habit that makes operations progressively worse.

“Comport.”

Synonym for “behave” or “conduct.” As in: ” Jason’s tech savvy lets him comport himself with confidence.”

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Geek Redefined

May 12, 2007

Definition of “Geek:”

Circa 1970 (Merriam-Webster): a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake.

Circa 1990 (common usage): a nerd who loves computer code and techie gadgets.

Circa 2007 (Wikipedia): an individual who is fascinated by knowledge and imagination, usually electronic or virtual in nature.

Wow, geeks have come a long way.

Time was when “geek” was synonymous with “dork”….a nerd with bad clothes and a worse haircut, with no social skills, who entertained himself by programming stuff on a computer. Imagine sitting in front of a computer all day!!

Now every information worker sits in front of a computer all day, occasionally weeping and wailing when their PC jams up. We often plead with geeks to help us. We need geeks and darn it, we like geeks. We want them around during the business day. Best Buy proudly flaunts the Geek Squad as a service advantage.

To be a geek has become a good thing. Now we apply it to anyone who is knowledgeable and maybe a little obsessed with something. Business Week lovingly refers to “manufacturing geeks.” USA Today has deemed turf scientist Trey Rogers the “Lawn Geek.” There’s the “Weather Geek.” There’s Geek.com. Even the Wall Street Journal uses the word freely.

Geek Squad Baby Geek

Some geeks seem to defy business gravity and get rich. You won’t hear anybody these days saying: “Yeah, those Google twins Sergey and Larry…real computer geeks…what a couple of losers.” Could Geekdom even become sexy? Power and money are intoxicating, and some geeks wield a lot of it.

Computer wizardry not-withstanding, one disappointing fact remains: the engineering profession in general (which includes geeks) continues to have a huge PR problem. Little jabs are frequent, such as Julia Louis-Dreyfus flippantly dissing and dismissing engineers on Jay Leno’s show recently. More importantly, there’s the fact that fictional writers completely ignore the profession – there hasn’t been an engineer role model in a television show (even acknowledged as a character’s incidental profession) since the widowed father of My Three Sons (Ed McMurray) back in the 60s. What a great guy “Steve Douglas” was.

Meanwhile, however, the press can’t ignore the savvy geeks who cash in quickly with ingenious enterprises such as YouTube and MySpace. When news stories tie Web 2.0 and IT engineering with business creativity and success, perceptions begin to change. This is a good thing. Long live the Geeks!

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Robust Me

May 2, 2007

IT’S LAME

“Oh jeez, not another flexible, scalable, groundbreaking, industry-standard, cutting-edge product from a market-leading, well-positioned company! I think I’m gonna puke!” says marketing advice author David Meerman Scott in his blog post Gobbledygook Manifesto. He tallied several hundred thousand press releases last year with help from the wire services and news aggregators, and found over-use of bloated and vague terms like “robust,” “world class,” and “easy to use.”

The adjective “robust” has always been a little fuzzy in my book. It could mean “heavy duty,” or “purposely over-designed.” Or does it simply mean that, as opposed to being barely capable of doing the job it’s intended to do, the product in question is really, really, absolutely designed and/or built to do the job it’s intended to do?

More on Gobbledygook words soon.

 

IT’S GAME

“Pulse” as a verb.

As in: “information that pulses through the network,” or “the extra throughput tends to pulse the bottom line.” Use it to convey vibrancy, authority, intensity or resilience.

pulse marketing communications

 

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