Archive for May, 2016

Engaging with the flagpole

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Karen+Stacey+Sue+Unerman+Advertising+Week+P6XHB5nFUhNlAre you as sick of jargon as the rest of us?

In the run up to a recent panel session with Karen Stacey, David Weeks and Omaid Hiwaizi, I asked around the office for everyone’s favourite, or is that most hated, jargon.

There was a deluge of response. And not all of it is digital technical acronyms.

Jargon falls into four loose and overlapping categories:

Cliché (Let’s run that one up the flagpole and see who salutes it); Tech jargon (DMP, CMP, DSU, DSP and DPS – have I made any of those up?); Frankenstein words (Imagineering); Poached terms, words or phrases that have a perfectly respectable normal meaning in the real world but which we have decided to invest with hidden meaning in media (Engagement – which seems to mean we’re hopeful that whoever we’re aiming this communication at won’t completely ignore us – this translates to “we had a very high level of engagement with the audience”).

We don’t have ideas any more when we can instead ideate or solutionise.  The flagpole that we run our thinking up might sit inside the walled garden (sometimes a good thing, it does sound tranquil, safe and pleasant, sometimes bad, a closed environment with limited sunlight or potential for growth).

Many people particularly dislike sentences that begin with the phrase “Data is the new…”

Oil? Matchmaker? Kryptonite? Soil? Rock and Roll? Take your choice.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time in meetings discussing the size of people’s data recently.  Although I obviously know that a terabyte is bigger than a gigabyte I keep forgetting whether a yottabyte is bigger than a zettabyte or the other way round.

Once you start being conscious of jargon you hear it everywhere. Overheard recently: “Is scaling of native difficult?” asked one chairperson.  “We’d obviously start with a data storm” stated another.

Does this matter?  Yes it matters.

First because using jargon allows everyone to misunderstand ever so slightly what everyone else means.  Too much jargon and you end up with different interpretations of what is going on and that benefits no-one.

Second, although there’s always been jargon, the pace of change in general has also accelerated the amount of jargon piling up.

Admittedly, it isn’t always easy to spell out what you mean in words of one syllable.

But we must try to be simpler and plainer.  Thanks Bloomberg for highlighting the issue and thank you to chair Adam Buxton for explaining that the more you use jargon, the more you come across as a dick.