This wonderful world of the web is littered with jargon and buzzphrases. Terms like internet, world wide web, online, new media, digital, virtual, social media, web2.0, semantic web, collaborative web, conversational web etc etc get used – often interchangeably – to the point at which it can all become thoroughly confusing even to those who think they know what they are talking about.
I’m a marketer by background, and I love the challenge of playing with words to try and demystify something. Of course the opposite is what normally happens in that you just end up in creating new jargon to confuse people more.
The other side is to get all ‘expert’ in an attempt to educate people about the true meaning of the terms, but that’s often not much use either (just get a few drinks down me for a pedant’s explanation of the difference between the web and the internet… guaranteed sleep inducer).
None of this confusion helps.
All this is particularly pertinent for me right now. I’m having more and more conversations about the potentially transformative nature of the web, and helping non-web colleagues to identify how the tools and opportunities can help them do their jobs better.
One project is working with my press office. A project they called the ‘New media Working Group’. My immediate response was to blanch at the title. But that is really missing the point (because the actual project is great).
You can gauge a lot about the level of knowledge of a person or a group by their use of terminology.
Knowing which terms have resonance and currency with those you seek to influence or work with is a real boon, rather than demonstrating your own ‘superior’ knowledge.
Whilst it’s tempting to educate others, it’s only worth it where its important. Its equally important not to patronise or appear to be pedantic.
But even talking ‘tech’ can confuse the matter – it’s much better to talk in terms that your audience understands. For me that revolves around problems and finding solutions rather than talking blogs or wikis.