This is partly in response to a comment by Asi in my last post, about Lean being a buzzword. Here’s my view on ‘buzzwords’:
A word becomes a ‘buzzword’ only in the context of being abused. I.e. Some people use words they don’t fully understand in the hope that whatever meaning they carry for other people might somehow present itself and mask their own ignorance. When enough people do this, and enough people nod when others do this, the more empty the word becomes. Until its original meaning becomes less palpable than its emptiness.
[It’s worth saying that all ‘meaning’ is man-made, so this makes total, frustrating sense]
But despite this flourishing emptiness, the word can remain meaningful for people that use it correctly and earnestly. Its integrity, though, is compromised. The word becomes damaged goods.
Should we stop using words that others abuse? I would suggest not. I think we owe it to ourselves to battle the emptiness and work harder to put meaning back into abused words.
What I will say, is that the more complex the world gets, the more important it is to avoid minimalist phrases and statements that, by their brevity alone, cannot describe the subject intimately enough. Maybe ‘buzzword’ itself is a buzzword: an unhelpfully miniscule, over-used word, attempting to describe a far more complex matter. Perhaps the real crime is valuing soundbytes over conversations. We seem increasingly obsessed with soundbytes, just as the world gets too messy for them to be helpful. Another reason for us all to blog more and perhaps tweet less. ;)