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12/30/2004
01:35 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Business Technology: Put These Words Out Of Our Misery

Every New Year's for 30 years, Lake Superior State University of Saulte Ste. Marie, Mich., seeks to do its service to the English-speaking world by banning words and phrases we no longer need. Or, more accurately, words or phrases we can no longer stand, such as bling or metrosexual.

Surely no one can touch Lake State's comprehensive archive--which this year struck down über, Webinar, and wardrobe malfunction, among others--and you can find its latest list at www.lssu.edu/banished. But in the interest of advancing the dialogue within our own industry, it's worth putting the microscope on ourselves. I would like to vow you'll never see these again in the print or Web pages of InformationWeek, but I fear many are too well entrenched among me and my colleagues, several of whom contributed to this list. And if you keep saying them, we must faithfully report--so we're all in this together.

OTHER VOICES
A svelte word banishment committee, fresh from a low-carb diet, said the process of selecting this year's words was an amazing journey through hundreds of nominations. "We're über-serious about this list," said one committee member, who noted the committee would issue its list through a traditional press release rather than using a blog or webinar.

-- Lake Superior State University press release, announcing that über, blog, Webinar, journey, and low carb are among the words on its 30th annual banished-word list.


If we've missed your (least) favorite expression, send it to me at cjmurphy@cmp.com, and we'll publish a follow-up list at InformationWeek.com. Here's a start:

  • Google as a verb: For all of us who once used the term "Amazoned," let's save ourselves the embarrassment this time around.

  • Cool names for crime, like phishing: Some of the biggest threats to Internet commerce--spam, worms, online fraud, system break-ins--were once winked at as pranks, so they got names like phishing and war driving. Instead of giving the next computer-based plague a cute name, let's just call it fraud, or theft, or abuse.

  • BlueSnarfing: See above. Let's head this off.

  • ROI puns: This includes all those plays on ROI in the ilk of return on insight, return on innovation, return on intranet, return on introspection, return on isotonic lotions ...

  • VoIP used as a word, as in "Voyp": Too nerdy to be believed.

  • Words other than software with "ware" at the end: freeware, malware, etc. This is headed noware good.

  • Take this discussion offline: Usually, this expression means, "Let's not waste time on this while we're all together at this meeting." Instead, everyone in the meeting gets CC'd on an E-mail to kick around the topic. So taking a discussion offline almost inevitably means taking a discussion that wasn't online, and putting it online.

  • SMS abbreviations in business E-mail: r u 4 real?

  • Solutions: As in an "RFID solution." There's little hope this'll go away; Lake State tried to ban it back in 2002, and didn't make a dent. So here's a litmus test: Pay today for a product or advice or a service, because those things are vital for solving problems. If it's a "solution," don't pay anything until the problem is, well, solved.

  • Bandwidth: Have you got the bandwidth for this project? Bandwidth? If I didn't have so much bandwidth, I wouldn't be playing Doom3 all day, and I might have time for your project.

  • Technology for technology's sake: As in, "We don't do ..." Oh, c'mon, sure you do. You just dress it up in a little Return On Inspiration ROI calculation first.

  • IT Doesn't Matter: Oh, wait, Nicholas Carr retired this one himself.

    Chris Murphy
    Executive editor
    cjmurphy@cmp.com

    Bob Evans will return next week.


    To discuss this column with other readers, please visit the Talk Shop.

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