Numbers: they can be beguiling things, especially when they tell a story we really want to hear. The bigger the numbers the better, ideally so mind-bogglingly big that they totally overwhelm our critical faculties. Best of all, take a series of numbers getting ever bigger: a dynamic that makes us feel as if something significant is happening … Continue reading Fact-checking the information exa-ggeration
Be it known that at some point in the near future I plan to bloviate on the concept of the prospectus and its coming revival in new and unexpected transmedia formats. Consider this a prospectus. I'm so meta.
The words we use to talk about people quickly come to constrain the ways we relate to them, so it's with mounting alarm that I see the spread of the word "normob" - a contraction of "normal mobile user". It started here, and has spawned this and this, and has even been taken up here. … Continue reading Normob: is this the ugliest word not yet to enter the English language?
[Mr. Incredible throws a log at Syndrome, who dodges it and traps Mr. Incredible with his zero-point energy ray] Syndrome: Oh, ho ho! You sly dog! You got me monologuing! I can't believe it... Late last year BBC4 aired an excellent Charlie Brooker Screenwipe special in which Graham Linehan, Russell T Davies and others shared their secrets … Continue reading Twitter: where monologues collide
From Barack Obama's inaugural address: "Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been … Continue reading Tolerance and curiosity
Adam Greenfield takes issue with the recently coined abbreviation BRIC, which arbitrarily lumps together the peoples of Brazil, Russia, India and China into a single multi-billion-sized unit. Terms like this are: antimatter to clarity of insight, or more accurately, some malignant linguistic equivalent of ice-nine: to drop one of them into a sentence is not merely … Continue reading On BRICs and broken boxes
Thus somebody - and nobody quite seems to know whom - said of Johannes Gutenberg. But even with the belated arrival of the "w" to make up the Latin alphabet to 26, this once mighty army now seems barely enough to log into Bebo. There are forces at work. Web-based services demand that users have … Continue reading ШITH TШЗИTУ-FIVЗ SФLDIЗЯS ФF LЗДD HЗ HДS CФИQЦЗЯЗD THЗ ШФЯLD
In the graveyard of St Mary's Church, Whitby, we came across this unexpected result of the interplay between people and the elements. I love the idea that for some reason, after this tombstone was carved, they needed to change it. Maybe extra family members were added the original words wore away and had to be … Continue reading Only the afterthought remains
The payphone has bluescreened... ... the departure board has 404ed... ... the giant TV screen is somebody's Windows desktop... Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! Since posting my three broken technology pictures, I've been suffering the blogger's equivalent of what the French call "l'esprit de l'escalier," and for which German has the … Continue reading Sous les pavés, la plage
Recently I've been spending time around online advertising people and I'm starting to wonder: if they're so smart at communicating, do they ever listen to themselves? For some reason this industry has adopted the most aggressive and unattractive jargon - targeting, eyeballs, cut-through, impressions, and so on. It doesn't have to be this way. The … Continue reading By Their Words You Shall Know Them
Picture 033 Originally uploaded by mattedgar. We believe that life is too short to find our own voice, and that it's easier to copy someone else. We take some dippy hippy Ben and Jerry's blurb and add a dash of Dave Cameron Innocent Smoothy mateyness, then we mix it up a bit (but not much). … Continue reading honest, tasty and real
In his essay "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell identified ... a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod … Continue reading Split a tag and kill a cliché