Metaphors and messages easily get mixed when, for instance, the company's ideas hamster has a 'light-bulb moment' while trying to 'push the peanut forward'. The almost surreal mix of portentousness and banality that some executives indulge in has never been more effectively satirised than in the s sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
Interested loggers-on to the internet will often swarm to a new website and lemmings are supposed to swarm over cliffs, but there are other swarm-related activities that may have far greater significance for technology and culture in the widest sense. The phenomenon whereby unintelligent members of an insect colony can act together to achieve intelligent solutions has fascinated such thinkers as Eric Bonabeau, the founder of Icosystems, and the San Francisco author Kevin Kelly, who was one of the first to apply terms like 'swarm logic', 'swarm intelligence' and the 'hive mind' to human systems and organisations.
The positive counterpart of the herd instinct, swarm intelligence allows living things or 'vivisystems' in the jargon to form self-organising optimisation networks. Members use trial and error, plus what is now known as feedback and adaptive learning, to accomplish localised tasks, making decisions and interacting like ants or bees without any awareness of the big picture. The City also has a long tradition of coining sorry colourful ways of talking about its lifeblood, money.
It's hard to keep track of all the slang terms in use, from the well-worn like moolah, mazuma, gelt, brass to the latest novelties, squids, boyz, bollers, broccoli and papes among them. Over lunch at the NatWest Tower the other day, a trader was boasting that a just-done private deal had netted him 'at least a Bernie'.
Shoot the Puppy
His companion remarked that 'even in today's money that's serious wodge'. I first heard this bizword when I shared a microphone recently with a Californian, Steve Manning. The occasion was a BBC radio discussion of the ongoing craze for re-branding companies, something Steve, boss of the US naming agency, Igor as in the doctor's assistant in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein , is an expert on.
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Vanillacide is an updated version of the old notions of death-by-committee, or the death-of-a-thousand-cuts by which new and creative proposals are diluted and diluted until they become universally acceptable - and wholly unoriginal. Agencies like Igor are paid big money to pitch new names to companies looking for a change of image. In Steve's own words, 'The best way to get people to sign off on a name is to come up with something that has no meaning and offends no one - the surest pathway to vanillacide.
This example of what used to be called a 'portmanteau word', known to linguists as a 'blend', is formed by bolting together the suffix of 'suicide' if you think of it as self-destruction or 'homicide' if you think it's a crime and the slang use of 'vanilla' meaning insipid, conformist or harmless, which probably began with the gay and feminist movements in the late s.
It's not only progressives such as Steve Manning who perceive a general tendency in global corporate capitalism towards a deadening uniformity.
Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life - Tony Thorne - Google Книги
Insider ironists now refer to 'blanding' and 'blandwidth'. Timid, over-systematised decision-makers are accused scornfully of 'blanding out'. Doubts about conformism coincide with growing doubts about the value of using focus groups to test new names, products or services. There is, however, a trick for getting round the play-safe herd instinct displayed by committees or focus groups: In rejecting the most extreme, they are likely to 'compromise' on something that is still fairly daring.
It might not work for everyone, but the Californian corrective to vanillacide is to junk consensus-seeking and embrace go-with-the-gut antimethodology, or, to use another trendy biz-term, 'corporate voodoo'. Kicking dead whales down the beach Meaning: This vivid term from the transatlantic vocabulary of the put-upon Microserf, can now be heard echoing round boardrooms in Britain, too: Strictly speaking, this doesn't refer to a completely impossible, futile task, or a solitary one: Moving the marine cadaver is a communal effort that has to be made, but which leaves everyone soiled and exhausted.
As first used, the whale phrase seems to have been a cry of despair, uttered when faced with an outrageous demand that seems quite reasonable to one's superiors, along the lines of, 'Yes, our team could re-set all the user-identities on the system by hand if you really insist, but I have to tell you, it will be like kicking dead whales down the beach. The image conjured up is a clue to the ultimate origins of the expression: The phrase probably surfaced pun intended to accompany the successive transformations of corporate life, beginning with the mainframe-to-desktop move, back in the s.
Analogue to digital, bricks and mortar to online, all meant crushing workloads and hideous deadlines for Silicon Valley's toiling midgets, as they used to call themselves.
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Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life
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