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Buzz off: a grievance against buzzwords

In our Inmagic newsletter archive from winter 1990-1991, Inmagic founder Karen Brothers voices her distaste for buzzwords.

We've all been exposed to a litany of this over-used terminology. But let's be honest. At the end of the day, it is what it is. We all want to engage in a synergistic evolution of dialogue, but many of us are probably growing weary at the sight and sound of yet another buzzword.

Consider this. There are close to 70 regularly used business buzzwords, according to data on Wikipedia. That's a lot of jargon for anyone to tolerate.

In our Inmagic newsletter, Karen takes a philosophical approach to explain why buzzwords exist and the purpose they serve. She believes we use buzzwords to frame new concepts and give context to emerging ideas.

She uses artificial intelligence as an example, writing, "This buzzword has been around for a while. But what does it mean to the average computer user?....Until [this] technology is in common use, we may continue to argue about what it is. Truth is, most people don't care what it is. And we probably won't care until we see a product which greatly improves our lives, and which waves this buzzword as a banner."

I agree, and I think we see the same scenario playing out with Enterprise 2.0 and the surrounding great debate about what it is, what isn't, and to whom. And love them or hate them, the influx of social-related buzzwords (Web 2.0, social media, the cloud, etc.) is helping drive the emerging E2.0 construct.

In addition, as the article states, it's not the buzzwords themselves that are exciting, but what they can mean for the industry. And when the industry sorts itself out, the buzzwords will become transparent, technology will be a silent partner, and we'll have to worry a whole lot less about how work gets done. And transparency of how we work is, well, buzz worthy.

Give our newsletter a once-over to see what else we were talking about in 1991. And feel free to post a comment. We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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