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Wording matters

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Quite belated, I bumped into this article on "tech lingo invented by marketers" by Mike Elgan.

Stop Dishonest Tech Lingo!

In the article, his heat on the term "follow" which was “invented“ for Twitter goes;

“The word is designed to appeal to narcissists who always wanted a "following." It lets users think that people out there are hanging on every word, anticipating every quip and mobilizing in response to the brilliant missives of the genius tweeter.“

Though the statement sounds a bit too sarcastic, I think he has a point about how the usage of a term such as "follow" may influence on the way we interact via the application, regardless of whether it was intended consequence or not.

In other words, I think it may be true that the wording and the application's nature represented by the word can create certain kind of “inequality“ that Andrew Keen mentions here (Although I think that the argument can be applied to only a certain sector of Twitter users, they are the most active and powerful ones anyways aren't they?).

“... He said it's "the future of individual media in the age of the individual... a future when individuals become brands. People with skills are able to sell their skills on the network. I call this real time social media.“

“...He thinks Twitter is "Feudal" in that those with large numbers of followers behave like barons of old, picking those they favour at random...“

Though I could agree that the "marketing lingo" doesn't need to end up in a dictionary, the word such as "follow" for Twitter is not merely a word for marketing spin, but is the (in my opinion) most important factor to determine the application's nature.

If these terms such as "follow", "(re)tweet" were not invented, it may have ended up in being buried in many (so I presume) other apps of same kind? I really don't know. I am curious to imagine how they developed the concept and the features for the application in conjunction, and also how much extent the creators of the application were conscious about the intention for the wording.

After all, I guess I just wanted to claim my belief in Kotodama (in general meaning) here maybe because I'm Japanese. Nevertheless, I don't doubt that the “lingo“ such as its name and all the terms defined for it cannot be considered in an isolated manner, as it is one of the most important part of application design.

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