Category Archives: Writing

The Emperor’s New Wearable Tech

Just to be quite clear, this is one from the vaults – what I laughingly refer to as an ‘archive’. A back-catalogue, if you will. Which means it’s a little out of date, because normally, in these infrequent nusings, you’ll find me chuntering on about stuff that I’ve either been (metaphorically) hit over the head with, or have gleaned from rapid perusal of the news media. And news has always been quick to become ‘olds’, and doubly so in today’s age of instant-gratification citizen journalism, so it would be – I’m sure you’d agree – pretty much inevitable that anything I write on the topic of news is likely to be out of date fairly soon. (Is it just me or is this all a bit, well, prolix? Get on with it Jeremy, spit it out, man!)

However. The musing that I post below, while news related, actually centres around tech and the development of. What makes it interesting – and, I think, indicative of where we, as a society are headed, increasingly rapidly – is that it was written in October last year. October 2014. We’re now in April 2015 – six months on. In that time, Google Glass – for it is this tech that I’m writing about – has been introduced, has been the subject of a myriad failed attempts at assimilation by a myriad of businesses, large and small, has been deemed a failure by Google itself and has been pulled. Talk about a week being a long time in technology.

As an aside, I’m reading a book at present called ‘Twelve Tomorrows’ – twelve science fiction stories based on actual articles from the MIT Journal. All the stories were written in 2014, almost all contain some element of wearable tech. There’ll be another twelve published this year – and I wonder what shiny object du jour they’ll all incorporate.

So, a quick show of hands. Who here is getting involved with Google Glass, or any other bit of wearable tech, in a business context? Now, clearly, I can’t see how many of you have your hands up at this point, but when Google Glass is purported to be owned by 8% of the total population of South Korea, I am betting it’s quite a few of you.

The problem, of course, is that Google Glass – and indeed any form of wearable tech – suffers from the same issue that social media did and, despite its ubiquity and billions of users, still does. Shiny Object Syndrome or, in what I believe to be the current vernacular, FOMO.

In other words, the desperate and rather unseemly desire of brands, businesses and organisations to try and shoehorn wearable tech into their operational practices, in order to be seen to be surfing the next wave – in order that someone else doesn’t get there first.

And, much like social media, we’re starting to see the growth of an industry around wearable tech. The Google Glass Gurus will soon be here, the Smart Watch Swamis and the entire rag, tag and bobtail who will very soon be plugged in to your operational, marketing and customer service budgets, providing essential advice on how best to revolutionise your business with wearable tech.

And, as usual, the only people who will actually see an upside from incorporating wearable tech into sales, marketing or CRM will be the very same snake-oil salesmen who convinced you to do exactly that in the first place.

Recently there have been a number of examples of businesses who have succumbed to the blandishments of the tech gurus – a healthy sense of self-preservation and a desire not to incriminate myself prevents me from naming names – however, this time round, and unlike the unstoppable rise of social media as a marketing tool, the businesses involved have left themselves what you might call ‘wiggle room’.

I’m an old communicator. Like one of those clunky black plastic devices out of an early episode of Star Trek. When I started out (with nothing, and I still have most of it left) there weren’t social media. Actually, there wasn’t email. We used to communicate over distance using flags. (Just kidding. We used to shout.) What we did do a lot of, however, was spinning yarns – using research, and innovation and, let’s face it, stuff that, on a nice day, with a fair wind, might possibly come true, to create stories and generate media coverage.

In many cases, the wares that we hawked up and down Fleet Street came with clear ‘caveat emptor’ signs – we were ‘trialling’ this and ‘testing’ that – we had conducted a ‘limited roll-out’ and whatever it was became available in ‘selected outlets’. And this is what we’re seeing with wearable tech – the businesses I’ve mentioned are all very much ‘trialling’ the usage of the kit in their operations, they’re ‘evaluating’ its potential.

Which leaves me some hope that, sooner or later, our collective hive memory will recall the fate of the Bluetooth headset, once the darling of the thrusting young exec, now the accessory of choice of a certain type of minicab driver.

And recalling the fate of the Bluetooth headset, we’ll look anew at Google Glass and see it for what it is – a stepping stone. You see, I don’t dispute the potential of the tech. It’s widely agreed that smartphone design has evolved as far as it can – it cannot get much thinner, or much larger or much simpler to interact with.

But the future’s not wearable tech. Nope – in the future the bloke who was recently reported as addicted to Google Glass won’t have to take it off ever again. Because it’ll be implanted in his skull and hardwired into his brain.

And, obviously, available in selected stores, for a trial period only.

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What’s In A Name?

Sometimes, I feel that all this was made up just for my benefit. My older readers will remember a movie called The Truman Show, in which manic comedian Jim Carrey discovers that his whole life is a reality TV show played out for the entertainment of the masses. It’s the little things that, eventually, give it away.

For me, it’s names. Striking and wonderful names which, somehow, give pause for thought. Quite clearly, it is a game being played by those who are running my personal show – seeing how just how far they can take it before I have to stand up and say ‘c’mon guys – really?’

It started quite innocuously. President Canaan Banana. Rugby player Austin Healy. Emma Dale. The news reporter, Julia Caesar. Recently, however, it’s become quite serious. Obviously, the directors of my show – confronted, I imagine, by collapsing ratings befitting a programme probably entitled ‘The Not Very Inspiring Life and Times of the Rather Humdrum Jeremy Probert’ – need to provoke me to some sort of reaction.

So they’ve thrown me into contact with Hubertus Funke, Elly Button and – I kid you not – Ting Ting Dong. (Never mind the spurned mistress of billionaire Samuel Tak Lee, who tried to blackmail him for £3m – take a bow, the entirely-appropriately-named Fuk Wu.) But it’s not just amazingly named people that are the cause of my disquiet.

Toward the end of 2013, The Wall Street Journal (I have to say, I think Big Brother could have done better with that one) published a list of companies entitled ‘The Billion-Dollar Start Up Club’. These are startup companies that are valued at $1bn plus by venture capital firms. Running down the list, we see included Jingdong, Zalando, Houzz, Jasper, Deem and – oh, yes – MongoDB.

Now, the so-called ‘Wall Street Journal’ (I’m on to your game, sonny) has a back-story for each of them – quite convincing as it turns out – but even then, there are the little clues, the in-jokes, the oh-so-arch references that give it away. Take Palantir. Valued at $9.3bn in the last quarter of 2013, its data mining software is used by ‘the CIA and the FBI to distil large amounts of information’.

Of course, everyone here will know that a Palantir is a creation of JRR Tolkien in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. An artefact of great power, of Elvish creation, it was an early form of mobile communication device (although the largest of the Palantiri suffered from the same design flaw as the Motorola DynaTAC in 1973 – it was the size of a small room) combining some of the features of Cisco’s TelePresence. More germane to my argument, however, is that fact that when we see a Palantir in action – so to speak – in The Lord of The Rings, it’s being used by Sauron, the Dark Lord.

And, arguably, he’s using it to ‘distil large amounts of information’. Coincidence? I think not. (Yes, I realise that it is possible that the founders of Palantir decided to use the name for EXACTLY THE REASONS I HAVE OUTLINED HERE. But they can’t have – because that would be the conclusive proof I’ve been looking for. Wouldn’t it?)

Another unmistakeable hole in the fabric of what I will laughingly call my ‘reality’ is, of course, the frankly silly numbers that are being attached to these startups. In the WSJ’s list, Snapchat’s there with a value of $2bn. (Twice the value of Mogujie, as it turns out. See? See what I mean?) Today, and following a judicious investment of $20m from the VCs, it’s got a valuation of $10bn. Not bad, Messrs Murphy and Spiegel, for a few months work on something that doesn’t actually generate any revenues (no surprises there, then).

Frankly, with all of this going on, you cannot expect me to believe I’m living in a sane and rational ‘real world’. I’ve been Jeremy Probert. Thank you for watching.

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On the subject of social……..

It’s another one from the vaults, dearest blog snorkellers mine. I know, I know – when am I going to stop recycling old ramblings and post something written especially for you, my loyal followers. If you’ll come a bit closer….that’s it…….now listen. No-one reads this stuff. So, if you’ve chanced upon it, rest assured that this was, in effect, written especially for you. It has been sullied by a number of eyeballs that’s in the single digits – that’s single digit pairs of eyeballs, obviously, unless I have readers who a) have only a single eye (never mind a single digit) or have mastered the art of reading with one. Eye. Not digit. Clearly. Anyway – this is new! Fresh! Splendid original thought to inform yours! Opinion-shaping and opinion-leading! Ah – who am I kidding.

Normal service will be resumed at some point in the future and, in the meantime, stop your whining and bask in my genius. Enjoy.

Take the case of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which crash-landed at San Francisco airport on July 6 2013. Within a matter of minutes, one of the surviving passengers – and nearly all of them did survive – was tweeting about it. (Which puts me in mind of the sign in Twitter’s UK HQ – ‘In case of fire, exit building before tweeting about it’.) No-one appeared to have tweeted from Malaysian Airlines MH370, or updated their Facebook status. Which struck me as being a rather bad sign.

Moving on – and apologies, gentle reader, for that was something of what I believe they call a ‘downer’ – there’s been loads of stuff going down in Social Town this month.(I can’t believe I just wrote that.)

In no particular order, the world wide web is 25 years old and when you think about the damage it’s wrought, the amount of less-than-functional geeks that are now worth billions and the amount of TED-derived drivel that one is forced to listen to every day, it’s a wonder that Sir Tim Berners-Lee hasn’t been chased through the streets and pitchforked to death.

In an echo of a previous column, a passenger on a train alerted the train operating company to sinister banging and scraping noises beneath his seat through the medium of Twitter, rather than through the eminently more sensible – to my mind – ‘run down the train shouting until you find a person in authority’ method. What’s really astounding about this is not that he did what he did, but that he considered Twitter the best way of communicating what could have been imminent disaster.

Advertising on Twitter is getting cheaper – good news for all those of you who are considering placing Twatverts, but not a terribly good reflection of the value of Twitter’s promotional real estate. I thought the trick was – ideally – to create a sense of worth around your ad space (through audience profiling) and thus stabilise or increase price while (and here’s the clever bit) increasing quantity of space for sale. Doesn’t seem to have worked in this case, which has to cast doubts on the overall market valuation of Twitter.

Elsewhere, someone finally noticed that LinkedIn requires an entirely different approach to, say, Facebook or Twitter – one that, arguably, removes it from the ‘social media’ space and places it firmly in business networking. And then there were two. A respected American fund manager saw fit to question the values ascribed to these two (and their recent purchases) and mentioned the ‘b’(*) word. And I don’t mean ‘b*ll*cks’, although it would be equally appropriate.

Facebook decided that what Africa really needs, right, is – erm – access to Facebook and invested a sizeable sum in a manufacturer of drone aircraft, which it intends to use as satellites, off of which to bounce t’internet. This will enable people in some of the poorest countries in the world to join the increasing numbers of people offering to sell their organs (quickly) on the social network. It could be the end of payday loans. Until you run out of organs.

David Cameron pledged a £45m investment into research around the Internet of Things – or M2M communications. Given that this won’t buy you a half-decent app these days, it’s a farcically small amount of money to throw at such a big (and important) topic, one that might – possibly – not just be seen as the Next Big Thing, but (unlike social) actually have some of the qualities of bigness, nextness and thingness. But, better little than never.

Apparently, hackers are now targeting internet-enabled devices. This could, of course, mean that when your fridge contacts your smartphone, prompting you to buy milk, you’ll get home to find that you didn’t need any. What really worries me, of course, is that the fridge won’t bother to tip me off about the milk situation because it’s too busy updating its Facebook status.

(*) Bubble

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The Next Big Thing Has Been Cancelled

Thing about these pre-prepared bits of writing is that a) I have to think of a title (which – and if you’ve any experience of writing you’ll know this – needs to at least nod in the direction of the content, otherewise you’d be guilty of mis-selling and no-one wants to be the blogly equivalent of payment protection insurance, no we don’t) and b) I have to think of a preamble, because they’re actually a bit out of time. Which is not the same as ‘past their sell-by’, no it isn’t. Anyway, this piece is a little bit about the fact that, despite many an effort by the gurus and the evangelisers, there actually aren’t any new social media. There’s two – Twitter and Facebook – two is the number, and the number is two. Never shall it be three, although it might become one. Wasn’t that a terrible song – ‘two become one’? Anyhoo, The Next Big Thing keeps being touted but, actually, under scrutiny, none of it ever stacks up, and the dawning realisation is that there are no NBTs, nor never will be. Here I have a look at Anomo and Whisper.sh. What? (I hear you ask.) Nope. Me neither.

(Also in this piece is a brief diversion into my favourite topic of not-words, with a sighting of ‘tunnelised’. Apparently, there was uproar and outrage in the good ol’ US and A a few days ago when they heard two Popes had been canonised. Seems they think lethal injection is far more humane. (Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.)

I know, I know. I’m an old Luddite, who’d rather be carefully inscribing illuminated script on a wax tablet, to be wrapped in a piece of fine Irish linen, sealed with the reddest of wax, imprinted with a seal (if the seal will hold still, if not, skip this step) and carried in the cleftiest of sticks by the fleetest of footmen, to the office of the Town Crier, in time for its contents to be oh-yea’d all over town. (Life was somehow simpler then.) Which is probably why I’ve only just come across Anomo and Whisper.sh.

Once again, I find myself short of time, patience and wordage – talking of words, as I wasn’t, I heard a perfectly acceptable English person utter the not-word ‘declarate’ just the other day, and read an article by Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) in which he maintained that the M25 would have to be ‘tunnelised’, I despair, truly I do – and I’m not going to bother with source material of references. Believe it, readers mine, or move on.

Anyway, Anomo and Whisper.sh are the two ‘next big things’ in social media. They already have a joint worth estimated to be in the brazillions. (OK, this isn’t true – but then again, I’m writing this now and you’ll be reading it then, and, well, who knows?)

So I thought I could be an early adopter. Finally, my chance to be in at the beginning of something! Sadly, however, it is quite clear that either I am genuinely incapable of grasping the subtle nuance of these two things, the refined essence that lifts them above so much of the mundane clatter that deafens our lives and obfuscates our vision or – and it’s a big one, folks – they’re both further extensions of the relentless ego-driven nonsense that characterises so much of the social space. Guess which I think it is?

So for those who don’t know – and such is my luck that by the time you read this, Anomo will be the médium sociale de choix of Barry, Dave and Helle, and Whisper.sh will have renamed itself SHOUT.grrr – Anomo allows you to interact with others in a similar space without revealing yourself, like Tinder for stalkers, and Whisper.sh, is a forum for selfies with the selfist’s thought written on them.

I’ll give you an example at random: “When I broke up with my ex, she decided to be a whore to try and get me jealous. Honestly I think its (sic) hilarious and I hope she gets an STD.” This charming sentiment attracts responses from like-minded individuals, who in turn, post a picture with their ‘thought’ on it. Eg “Same exact thing happened with me….” Someone shoot me.

Two things spring to mind immediately, one horrifying, one vaguely reassuring. The horror comes from the certain knowledge that it can only be a matter of time before the gurus start claiming that Anomo and Whisper.sh should be key pillars of your marketing strategy.

I read an article recently in which some plank called Gerry Underchuk (or similar) claimed that Snapchat was his main marketing tool right now. (Head in hands, people, head in hands.) The reassurance comes from the almost certain knowledge that these two simply cannot be revenue delivering. (Can they?)

Talking of delivering revenue – and value – I note that nice Mr Zuckerberg (when he’s not selling $1.4bn of shares to pay a tax bill) (or is he?) (maybe he’s simply saying that to cover the fact that he’s taking an enormous amount of money out of the company before it all turns into a rat’s arse?) is developing video advertising for Facebook, because that’s where the money is. Actually Facebook is not the best medium for video, because of the way it’s used, but hey – video works on TV, why not on social?

Hear that click? That’s the sound of something coming full circle.

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Word Rage

Here’s a thing that ticks all my boxes – in the same way that The Sound of Music has everything one wants in a film (Nazis, nuns and goats), this story has hippies (actually, an unbeatable combination of American and hippy), made-up words and food trends. I don’t know whether to squeal with delight or explode into incandescent rage and spontaneously combust. At least I know that, working (I use the word loosely) in close proximity to airlines, my ashes would be well taken care of.

So, for your delectation on a wintry Friday, here’s a story from The Wall Street Journal entitled ‘Brooklyn Foodies Supper In Silence’. Do the light clicktastic and have a look for yourselves. OK, OK, I know that you won’t – so many links unclick’d ‘pon, as the Bard might have said, o brave new communications medium that hath such pages in’t. So, as you persist in your churlish reticence and simple bloody-minded refusal to play along, I will tell you what the article says.

In brief, it seems that a restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (which I believe to be a suburb of the American capital, New Amsterdam), called Eat (got to love that ol’ US no-frills, does-what-it-says-on-the-tinness) recently hosted a pop-up dinner in which all 17 or so guests committed to a vow of silence during the meal. What I think is more surprising here is not that there was a silent rule for the meal, but rather that the guests found it difficult to succeed in the endeavour. There was a threat of plates being taken outside to finish meals in a ‘loudmouth’ fashion. Others went to the toilet to give themselves pep talks – out loud. It is not made plain whether smartphones and other devices were outlawed also – if not, I’m certain others kept their silence by concentrating furiously on Facebook.

Apparently, in the end, the silence became ‘good – the good kind of quiet’. On so many levels I find this beyond strange. The fact that one pop-up silent dinner makes a trend. The fact that the silent diners couldn’t hack it. The fact that silent dining is – in itself – considered so out of the ordinary that it’s newsworthy. The fact that hipsters are so unaccustomed to quiet that they’d never experienced comfortable quiet before. (Only in America, I’m afraid.) it’s not even as if it was the food that rendered the diners silent. No. They had to be ‘implored to ‘speak now, or forever hold your peace” in a rather unhealthy confusion of the spiritual and the corporeal.

How do you think this lot would have managed in Dans Le Noir? (Where you dine in the dark.)

Anyway, so far, so privileged American nonsense. Ridiculous hippies, with tales of ‘silent breakfasts (…) enjoyed at a monastery in the Indian Buddhist pilgrimage city of Bodh Gaya and stints in silence at meditative retreats, (and) hoping to rediscover that pastoral energy in a city-bound context’. ( Oi! Wall Street Journal! This is satire, isn’t it? We’re not actually taking these people seriously? Just checking.)

But then – oh, then. Why is it that our colonial cousins feel that it’s acceptable to select words. seemingly at random, and then forcibly bend them to their will, regardless of context or meaning? And, if they fail in this endeavour, to simply make something up, often without needing to do so, as there are (of course) a plethora of perfectly acceptable words that could be employed in most situations. I suspect it is because the United States and America are, clearly the homes of the brave and the lands of the free and if I can carry a high-powered automatic weapon in public, perfectly legally, wear dubious clothes at will and be umpteen stone overweight as a right, then I can most certainly obligate the American language to manglify itself around my need for expression without thought. I wish to engage mouth without having brain in gear.

Back to our silent dinner – one of the guests (Jessica Laser, a 27-year-old writer from Greenpoint, since you ask) (great name, Ms Laser, btw) who – just in case you missed it – is a writer, had this to say. “I tend to pride myself on my ability to articulate, so I’m eager to see what happens here.” Ms Laser is, by the way, a writer. She is also using the adjective as a verb – which at least shows some arms-length familiarity with the intended meaning – but is, of course, wrong. ‘To articulate’ does not mean ‘to speak’. ‘Articulate’ describes someone who can converse fluently, but it is not (Ms Laser) a doing word.

Thing is, I know where this came from. And it is insidious. A sort of creeping malaise. An American ill. I shall make up a word to describe it. In fact I already have done. Manglify. Only, were I a US citizen, that would not be enough. I would have to go a step further. Yes, gentle reader, I would have to go to ‘manglificate’. So, for example, the perfectly good verb ‘to oblige’ becomes ‘to obligate’ (‘he was obligated’), and – I shudder inside – the generally acceptable verb ‘to converse’ becomes ‘to conversate’ (‘we should conversate around this’). I suspect that the erroneous use of the word articulate was because of a confusion around conversate – and here I will simply say that when language is destroyed based on a misunderstanding over a word that doesn’t exist, all is pretty much lost.

Finally – because I know you’re almost bursting with the desire to know what our silent chums ate, at their inarticulate dinner – I shall tell you what the Quiet Ones aterated for their mute repast. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it was simply too much trouble for Nicholas Nauman (Eat’s 28-year-old managing chef and events planner) to describe his cuisine as organic and locally-sourced, so he called it – or maybe it’s not him (horrible thought strikes), maybe this is everywhere in the colonies – ‘organic locavore fare’.

Herbivore. Carnivore. Locavore. I went on t’interweb. I typed in ‘loca’ and requested a translation. I got the answer I thought I might. It appears that a locavore would be one who mainly consumes Spanish madwomen.

Manglificent!

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What’s Wrong With the English Language?

What is wrong with the English language (with its 1 million, nineteen thousand, seven hundred and twenty-nine point six words – yes, point six – which I presume is explained using the same reasoning that allows for ‘dog’ being two words – noun and verb – where the point six of a word is one of those ones that irritating people – yes, that’s you, Mother – use to win at Scrabble. Words like ‘pfft’ and ‘xkp’. Which are not worthy of being words. Or, the thought strikes me, is it that there are two words which are one point three of a word each, which, for no sane reason, I can imagine as words like ‘sha’n’t’ which, with two apostrophes and, to my mind, although I’m not sure whether it’s accepted wisdom or not, two glottal stops, is definitely more than one word, although I’d stop short of saying it’s a word and a half)?

I mean, there has to be something wrong with it, or people wouldn’t insist on making words up to suit their own ends, or to fill a void which was probably perfectly fillable by an already extant word, but they were just to lazy to think about it for a moment or – heaven forfend – access t’wonder of t’modern age, t’internet and have a quick noodle for the right word, or simply to escape the dark lexicographical silence in their heads. Words like ‘volunteerism’, ‘bulletise’, ‘monetise’, ‘cremains’, ‘alphabetise’, ‘corporatastical’ and ‘stresscalation’. (OK, the last two are genuinely made up – not by me, I may add – and are free for you to use in whatever way you wish.) (I shall be using them in discussion with my CEO as soon as the opportunity arises.)

But still they persist, these makers of words, these egotistical improvers of that which (I would argue) does not need their improvement (as it is already growing at 14.7 words a day, proper words, like ‘Web 2.0’ – which was word number one million – yes, alright, I know it’s not a proper word *sigh*) and the latest obscenity to grab my attention as it appears to be spreading like sick outside a Walkabout on a Saturday night is ‘obligate’.

No, no and thrice no. It’s oblige. No-one is obligated to do nothing, never. One may, however, end up being obliged to do something. Anyway, I got all quite cross about this and approached t’internet (with the requisite caution) and pushed a few searchy buttons and found this – old, but interesting – discussion on painintheenglish.com. D’you know, it stopped me for a moment. Because there’s an argument that ‘obligated’ (I suffered when I typed that, I should point out) is a legal term, differentiated from obliged, with a far stronger meaning.

But I soon recovered. Even if it is (and I’ve no proof that it actually IS, having not consulted my legal advisor, Habeas Corpus of Corpus, Facit and Fides) there is no excuse for using it outside of the legal arena. I do not refer to myself as the party of the first part (hardly ever, anyway), far preferring me, you or him, nor do I go around making agreements in principle and no more do I talk about the arbitrariness of something or other.

It’s either arbitrary, or it’s not. And one should be obliged to remember that.

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When Two Become One – Social Media and the Abuse of Language

Boom, snorkellers mine! Or is it ‘boosh’? Recently I had my faith in ‘boom’ as the young person’s emphatic of choice somewhat shaken when the young person I use as my ‘young person barometer’ opted for the latter. But it is possible that said young person was still coated in fall-out from the Jack Black oeuvre ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, where Mr Black does, in fact, use ‘boosh’ to denote triumph and satisfaction. Which then begs the question, did he use ‘boosh’ because he is American? Or because it was a family movie? Or both?  I will admit to worrying slightly about ‘boom’, as I suspect it has overtones of ‘gangsta’. But, and indeed, hey – that’s the way I roll.

Which digression leads us nicely into the theme of today’s meander down language lane. Oh yes, syntaxmen, grammarians and semanticleers, another excursion into the verbiage. So, those of you who’ve been here before (wind whistles round an empty, cavernous space and a small, adolescent tumbleweed rolls gently into the dusty distance) will know that one of my greatest bugbears is the abuse of language – whether that’s language used wrongly, or words that are made up, slapdash errors or mistakes that have become so commonplace that they are now practically accepted as part of the language they undermine. I refer, of course, to apostrophe’s.

The other thing that makes me seethe, of course, is social media. Now – and before anyone starts – I am not a social media denier. How can anyone be a social media denier? I am someone who does not believe that social media is the be-all and end-all. I see no reason for there to be a social media industry. I have no time for social media gurus. I do not believe that social media add any real value whatsoever, and I remain convinced that they are practically useless in any sort of commercial (sales and marketing) environment. At best another set of media for communications purposes, at worst, dangerous, misguided and damaging (for a brand or organisation, anyway). Shallow, one-dimensional and self-obsessed – that’s social.

So imagine my joy when I came across this: “We have learned through experience tweeple don’t like brands jumping in if they have chosen not to include them. It could cause a black lash especially if they are out spoken. It is strange but they don’t like being watched even though
it’s public forum.

Do the users of Twitter know they’re being called ‘tweeple’? Do they call themselves ‘tweeple’? Are the Tweeple the inhabitants of Tweetville? If there are many Tweeple, are there individual Twersons? Does anyone have any idea how much this makes social media seem like a figment of the imagination of Dr Seuss and one that makes even less sense than a portion of green eggs and ham? What, social medians, are you thinking of?

I am a guardian of corporate reputation by profession. Something I’ve learnt is that, if you want to be taken seriously, you don’t give yourself a ridiculous name. It takes a long time and a lot of effort before you can start being jokey with your brand, and even then, the jokes have got to be clever and make people think. Or, of course, you can start out with a ‘whacky’ personality (Innocent Drinks) but even then it needs to be thought through to the nth degree. In this case, you’ve got a case of the whackies without any longevity or substance. And it is value and reputation-destructive.

But, hey (again), go with the flow. In the spirit of entente cordiale, here are a few generic nouns I’ve come up with for the users of other social media. These are free and anyone can use them without even thanking me. (Although it would be nice, obviously.)

Faceboks. Tumbleers. Foursquats. Instagrates. Youtubigrips. Pinteresticles.

And, of course, it’s not Tweeple.

It’s Twats.

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