Press "Enter" to skip to content

no-jargon 10-point pledge

Jargony text & talk drives me crazy. I wrote previously pleading with you, dear readers, never to use the word “utilize” when all you mean is “use.” This stuff infects the pages and html of techies, marketing people and academics, and unsuspecting citizens as well. It’s contagious and dangerous.

I am going to do my part. I’ve decided to take a no-jargon pledge.

Because I value clear concise prose, I promise never to use the following 10 words or phrases when I write:

  1. concretize
  2. modality
  3. paradigm
  4. stake out (a/its/your/my) position
  5. drill down
  6. leverage (unless I am talking about moving rocks)
  7. utilize
  8. empowerment
  9. is informed by
  10. flesh out

This list can be lengthened, please suggest words and phrases to add.


  1. Steven Mansour Steven Mansour 2007-02-16

    11. disintermediate
    12. cluetrain
    13. long tail
    14. data-driven
    15. viral
    16. harness (as a verb)
    17. re-invent
    18. monetize
    19. mashup
    20. user-centric
    21. synergy
    22. user generated content
    23. remixability
    24. co-creation
    25. [web service] community

    … and… last, but not least…

    26. Web 2.0


  2. Hugh Hugh 2007-02-16

    nice. i’m going to leave web2.0 in my bag of tricks tho, because for all that it is hated, it is a chronolocial marker for me which defines the time when I was able to begin participating in the web, without any technical knowledge.

    that to me is the only valuable meaning of web2.0: when average non-techy joes/janes were given the tools to put info on the net.

  3. Hugh Hugh 2007-02-16

    nice nick. i’ll pare that long list down to these:
    * at the end of the day…
    * hit the ground running?
    * dog and pony show
    * ducks in a row
    * hammer out
    * in terms of
    * let me tell you what I just heard you say…
    * on the same page
    * seeing eye to eye
    * synergy
    * touch base
    * vis-à-vis

  4. Steven Mansour Steven Mansour 2007-02-18

    I find it interesting that web2.0 is a chronological marker for you – when exactly were you “able to begin participating in the web, without any technical knowledge”?

    Because let’s face it – a true “non-techie” who has never used a computer before hasn’t got much more of an easier way to put info on the web than they had, say, in 1998. Sure, the barrier of entry is lower – you can get up and running with blogspot a little quicker than you could with Geocities way back when. My aunt hadn’t ever done much else than send an email, but she had her neighbour’s photos up on Tripod in less than an our. Ten years ago.

    So what changed? The “definition” of a techie, and the scale. Today, anyone with a myspace page is a techie – the fact that it takes a couple minutes to set up doesn’t change that. Then, we’ve got this entire generation being raised on IM (to stay “in the loop” with their friends), Google and Wikipedia (to plagiarize homework reports) and Myspace (god knows for what, but presumably for the same purpose as IM). They’re doing the lion’s share of the propagation behind much of this (just look at the comments section of any Youtube video), because it happens to be the state of the web at a time in their life when these tools are useful to them.

    These enabling technologies (xml, wiki syntax/versioning, trackbacks, syndication, “blogging”, podcasting, youtube, etc) have been evolving slowly over the past 10 – 15 years, and didn’t just appear when O’reilly uttered the words “web two point oh”.

    [“Web 2.0”] was coined by Dale Dougherty during a meeting between O’Reilly and Associates (a computer book publisher) and MediaLive International (an event organizer) as a marketable term for a series of conferences.

    There you have it. A slogan. Most marketers have them.

  5. Hugh Hugh 2007-02-18

    easy: free hosted blogging. previously:
    – i did not know how to set up a web site
    – i did not want to have to learn how to set up a web site
    – i did not want to pay money for a web site i didn’t know how to set up

    then, (for a couple of months, but set up by a friend), and shortly after, even better, (running wordpress).

    suddenly I became a publisher of content to the web, where before I was not, for many different reasons. But the change was in the tools: free. easy.

    for me:

    web1.0 = I had to program to participate actively – otherwise web was totally passive (ie receive content, not add content). I could not program therefor I was passive.

    web2.0 = I could participate actively (ie make and share content) without programming.

    myspace, youtube, flickr, wordpress, etc. are all examples of simple tools that I can anyone can use without knowing anything about html, xml, or anything at all.

    techies get knickers twsited because for them there was no substantive change: the tools got easier, but they were publishing to the web before (as part of the chosen few), and continued to do so when the web got invaded by a bunch of neophytes, who were so excited to now have access to the tools that were takne for granted by techies for years.

    so whether its a marketing buzzword or not, the term for me marks the most significant possible change in MY relationtionship to the web: from passive to active.

  6. Ella Ella 2007-02-18

    Aw, I kind of like ‘paradigm’. My personal least fave is ‘commence to start’. And I’ve never understood why people feel obliged to use the word ‘obligate’. ‘Bleeding edge’ (cutting edge wasn’t good enough?) is just annoying, and ‘long tail’ is overused and most people overusing it don’t really know what it means.
    And as another non-techie web junkie, I totally agree about how much more accessible things are now, I only hope that the trend continues. But I wouldn’t expect someone who replaced OSX with Linux to be fully sympathetic to the plight of the non-coder computer user ;) (kidding)

  7. Hugh Hugh 2007-02-18

    added to the list:
    * obligate
    * long tail
    * bleeding edge

    “commence to start” i have not heard, but is a travesty.

  8. Steven Mansour Steven Mansour 2007-02-18

    Hugh, I asked:

    “When exactly were you “able to begin participating in the web, without any technical knowledge”?”

    And you answered:

    easy: free hosted blogging. previously:
    – i did not know how to set up a web site
    – i did not want to have to learn how to set up a web site
    – i did not want to pay money for a web site i didn’t know how to set up

    We’re in agreement over this. You didn’t answer “When Web 2.0 started”, but rather “free hosted blogging”. That was the catalyst for you. When companies started to offer free, managed blogging solutions, that’s when the barrier to entry disappeared for you. For others, maybe it was when podcasting was made easy by the last major release of Garageband. For others still, perhaps it was when Wikipedia saw the light of day.

    My curiosity has nothing to do with how or when larger masses of users started reading / writing to the web, but rather how you came to use the term “Web 2.0” as a label for this evolution.

    To me, it’s the same thing as hearing someone ask for a “Kleenex” when they really want a “tissue”, reading about someone stabbing themselves in the brain with a “Q-tip” when all we really know was that it was a “cotton swab”, or watching someone “use Powerpoint” when it’s really just a presentation.

    “Web 2.0” is a brand to me, nothing more. And yes, I’m very aware that I’m part of a tiny little minority.

    Oh, and Ella – I’m no coder. I’d almost take offense to that, if it weren’t coming from someone who hangs around the kind of people who say things like “commence to start”. (kidding!) :p

  9. mir mir 2007-02-19

    I hate it when people say “irregardless” it means nothing nothing at all.

    At a stretch it means ‘with regard regard to’ framed as a double negative.

    nice new blog Hugh, this lay-out is sweet business indeed

  10. Hugh Hugh 2007-02-19

    if it makes you feel better i use web2.0 with a cringe and usually write it “web2.0y (whatever that means).” but the version numbers are important and useful. 1.0=passive; 2.0=active.

    there is a non-branded word for kleenex, and for q-tip. I am not aware of an immediately understood term ot replace web2.0. Maybe “participatory web” but that looks & sounds like crap. Jargon has it’s uses.

  11. mir mir 2007-02-19

    oops I meant ‘with regard to’ only once.

  12. Hugh Hugh 2007-02-19

    Now on the list:
    * irregardless (that goes along with “commence to begin”_

  13. […] posted my 10-point no-jargon pledge a while ago, regarding things I promised never to write. After watching some of the vids of me at […]

  14. […] had a discussion with Steve about the term web2.0, and whether or not it is useful. Steve wants it […]

  15. hugh hugh 2009-01-09

    good suggestions pronmoviesI i will add them to the list too.

Comments are closed.