Friday, May 23

MediaPost Raw - A New Buzzword

We haven’t heard corporate wordplay this clever in some time. Last year, a top Grey executive said he’s aiming to create a “tra-digital” shop — one equally proficient in old and new media.

Tra-digital? Whoa - that's bad. Straight out the Elks' lodge.

The other buzzterm the post cites is "automagically," which is at least 3 years old. Heard it in numerous conference demos and video tutorials.

Friday, February 29

An Interview with Buzz Saw

An Interview with Buzz Saw:

In 2000, jargon-garbage was at its peak, and rejoiced in its endless battle with weak-minded PR entities. Susan Mac Tavish Best interviewed me, The Red Worm, after a particularly creative haircut:
1). How often do you go red from using a buzz word?

Very rarely. When I do use a buzzword, I try to make sure the sardonic quotation marks are audible. When I was at Forbes, there were a few agonizing instances in which buzzwords were edited into my stories. See


10). I heard that the hyphen key on the computer keyboard was going to be swapped with the single quotation mark for ease-of-use. All buzz, all true, or just a load of crap?

The ultimate PR hack attack would be a trojan horse program that turned the hyphen key into a delete key. PR Newswire, Business Wire and M2 Presswire would be out of commission. With a shortage of mushy buzzwords to grease its progress, the Web industry would screech to a halt.

Tuesday, February 12

Business Technology : Oracle's Hot New Offering: Gobbledygook

Props to WSJ business technology blogger Ben Worthen. Being on the biz tech beat, he and his colleagues have to sift through steaming piles of buzzword-laden press releases daily, but a recent "offering" from Oracle crossed the line, and Worthen pounced:

Are you looking for a “market offering designed to simplify the lifecycle management of complex IP-based services?” Have we got the product for you!

That description is straight from an Oracle press release that touts…well, we’re still not sure what it touts. The release is string of bewildering tech terms and vague verbiage. It refers to whatever it is the company is selling as an “offering” in each of the first three sentences. Is that software, hardware or something you sacrifice to Quetzalcoatl?

The release explains that this offering is an “integrated solution” that “enables communications service providers to manage growing IP service complexity, scale operations efficiently and facilitate ongoing network change.”
There's more, so check out the link above for a proper thrashing of Oracle's PR department.

Thanks to David Resnic of CA for alerting us to it.

Thursday, January 31

First, create the problem...

Business Process Management
Building End-to-end Process Solutions for the Agile Business

"Within the average organisation working patterns and associated operational practises change on a regular basis. Modern business systems must be capable of responding to change as and when it occurs. Today's leading Business Process Management (BPM) systems are capable of delivering information and service in a form and at a time that supports the everyday needs of the business and its users."

The Butler Group

Thursday, January 10

It might take CSI to determine what they do

See if you can figure out what Lexicon Digital Communications does.

Oh - a "solutions-based" company. Taking the pain out of the process...which process?

The ghost of 1999 is upon us.

Tuesday, September 18

At Least the Names are Better This Time

Looking at the Demo Pit at the Techcrunch 40 conference, I have to say that big fonts and pastels aren't the only huge Web 2.0 improvement over the dot-com stampede. Freed of the idiotic naming convention whereby ".com" was suffixed to every company's official name, in order to signal to day traders that "this here is an int4rWebz company," and aside from the "Big"s, the "[elided-e]r"s and the "-ster"s, this is a pretty decent crop.

Names I'm feeling:
  1. Vudu - du it.
  2. Stixy - yum!
  3. Swamble - sounds like the name of a country judge.
  4. Pakt - ...and ready to go.
  5. Tangler - risky, but frank.
  6. Boomi - cheeky, with a bass track.
  7. Spoke - 'nuff said.
  8. Mashery - either a British misdemeanor or a pre-industrial fast food chain - either way, guilty as charged!
  9. Houseglue - construction adhesive or coagulated dance-sweat? Who cares - two good nouns that go great together.
  10. - spooky in a good way
  11. Polar Rose - sounds like the name of a Yes track or something. How can that be bad?
  12. WorkLight - take out the intracapital, but cozy and solid nonetheless.

Names I'm not feeling:
  1. DotName - way too close
  2. Chuala - woof!
  3. Empressr - lose the "r" and you've got something
  4. SmartHippo - redundant
  5. MyFridj - oh, my.
  6. Goojet - disgusting
  7. Snoozester - and that goes for the language in the company description too.
  8. Dopetracks - e-heroin chic?

Monday, June 12


I've been seeing and hearing this one frequently: "learnings," as in "There were some key learnings to take away from that project."

Translation: "We got our ass handed to us on that one. Never again."

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, January 12

Red Meat D.I.Y. on those words

Son X has a little commentary, couched in the form of a customized Red Meat comic. It's suggestive of a buzzkiller/red meat mashup, but really this is more of a remix than a mashup. There's a difference. You knew that.

Wednesday, November 9

Enough said!

Hipster PDA nano, originally uploaded by fraserspeirs.

Sunday, August 28

Back-Story Battles

Reporters beware? Mark Cuban blogs the email interview for a NYT piece about him.

This thing, while definitely a warning shot to reporters tempted to take liberties with source material and interview notes, basically boils down to a criticism of the way Sorkin's friendly approach differs from the critical tone of the resulting piece.

The whole kerfuffle is a far less intense version of the war that David Eggers wrought on NYT reporter David Kirkpatrick, which includes a ton of the email correspondence between the two, from Kirkpatrick's dogged effort to draw Eggers into commenting to the bitter denouement. If you can find (and endure) the original "correction" that Eggers ran, you really get to see the seamy side of the journo business.

Monday, July 25

An Email Blacklist of Technology PR Agencies - at last!

The long-awaited Blacklist of Technology PR Agencies? (by Jeremy Zawodny) is upon us! was long rumored to have an automated blacklist of PR agencies. But our automated email blacklist has always been trained on specific buzzwords and worthless phrases, not on any agency in particular.

Also, I ran into Mr. Zawodny in the lobby of Yahoo building D or B or some letter, and the first thing he said to me was "You haven't updated your blog in, like, a year." Hence all the recent activity here. Thanks for the inspiration, J.Z.

Wednesday, July 13

Bad Pitch! Bad!

We hope this is truly a weekly flogging of weak flogging...

Corante > Flackster > Hopelessly Inept Pitch of the Week

Bonus: the first commenter asks the question that we put to bed five years ago, via a poll of our readers: to name or not to name the source of the pilloried pitch?

Monday, July 11

Flackosphere Intersects Blogosphere!

Russell Beattie flies into the kind of rage here -- PR People Are Morons -- that I haven't felt since the late 1990s, when an earlier wave of completely clueless PR zombies launched an offensive.

There's a lot of thoughtful PR discussion stemming from Russell's rant and an admonitory post by Anil Dash with a slightly more urbane tone.

Thursday, July 7

Napster, Dude what the Dell?

Oooh - Dell is hmmm - reselling subscriptions to Napster at a student discount rate.

Om Malik, none too impressed, has a laugh at the expense of the press release.

Wednesday, June 29

Micro Persuasion: 10 Commandments for The Era of Participatory Public Relations

Music to our ears!

If we had to choose one commandment, it would be #8. No, not the old one, about stealing. The new one, about meaningless business jargon...

from Micro Persuasion: 10 Commandments for The Era of Participatory Public Relations:

8) Thou shall banish corporate speak – People want to hear from you in a human voice. Don’t hide behind corporate speak. It will soon sound like ye olde English.

Well said, Mr. Rubel. You're a credit to the profession. We beg to differ with you on that last point, though. Olde English (a.k.a. Eight Ball, for all you EZ-E fans) provides an honest buzz, and Old English means what it says.

Friday, April 22

peeling back the layers of PR B.S.

John Gruber provides an excellent translation of the company line on Adobe's purchase of Macromedia. Thanks to Bob at Snee dot com for alerting us.

one of the translations - check it:

Who proposed this acquisition — Adobe or Macromedia?

Official answer:
With the recent success and strong momentum of both Macromedia and Adobe, the CEOs of each company agreed that this was an excellent time to combine forces. Together, we have the opportunity to create an industry-defining technology platform that delivers compelling, rich content across a wide range of devices and operating systems.

Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen was the pitcher, Macromedia CEO Stephen Elop was the catcher.

Every PR department should have someone who can translate like this.

Sunday, April 17

Wednesday, November 3

Grind 'Em!

from Jeffrey McManus:

Jeffrey McManus' Grind: 'Learnings' Is A Stupid, Stupid Word:

Attention, Masters of Business Administration of Corporate America: Quit using the word 'learnings'. It makes you sound really stupid. The word you really want is 'lessons'.

Your pal,


Hear, hear. Our suggestion: Use a catapult to leverage your granular pile of learnings through the aether into a porcelain vat half-full of water, where the learnings would splash and dissolve, creating a solution.

Thursday, October 28

Just a general "what's up with that?" entry here:

Books with authors who use "Dr." as a prefix. Stop it.

I guess "Dr. Phil" is the corniest manifestation of this phenomenon, the cheesy, bullying effort to establish some kind of authority over the unlettered peasantry. Oooh - the Doctor is in! Quick - everybody to the town square for the laying-on of hands!

It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the additional, inevitable use of the "M.D." or "Ph.D." suffix at the end of the author's name. Hey fatheads - the suffix is all you need! People understand what M.D. and Ph.D. mean.

Tuesday, September 14

make your own bogeyman!

Now here is a new one, on me at least. Transmedia Corp has apparently trademarked a concept, "digital friction," which is the alleged problem their wares purport to solve. Rather clever, actually - first, invent the problem:

What is Digital Friction??

Digital Friction™ is caused by the rapid proliferation of digital files and information (music, video, images, documents, calendars, contacts etc.) and of non-integrated, incompatible proprietary systems used to manage the many aspects of digital work and home life.

Digital Friction™ begins when you select and purchase software based on your PC and OS requirements, continues when you install and configure software and is most apparent when working with and navigating between multiple programs on your desktop creating software and OS conflicts, often necessitating extra steps to complete tasks (e.g. manual migration and format conversions of incompatible files and information between software applications) and taxing processor power and memory. These are examples of Digital Friction™ that we all experience…and that we have considered acceptable…until now…

Who is Responsible for Digital Friction™?

The Digital Revolution like the Industrial Revolution has brought with it incredible advancements but also its own set of intrinsic problems. One byproduct is Digital Friction™ that takes away valuable time and resources from people. Many technology companies, create Digital Friction™ by --
• Promoting proprietary and closed platforms
• Working against open systems and customer choice
• Fighting format wars that create incompatibilities for users and frustrate their ability to manage and share media and communicate with others
• Forcing people into “artificial” online communities that are exclusionary by design and defined by corporate interests
• Promoting open systems that do not honor and protect content creators and the value of media content

How Does TransMedia Combat Digital Friction??

TransMedia’s individual empowering and community building technology, makes the status quo and current methods of media and information management, communication and sharing a cumbersome experience. A process of natural selection drives people away from rigid, closed, friction filled systems toward compatible and integrated system.

The TransMedia platform reduces Digital Friction™ by providing a single integrated and compatible online platform that enables users to manage media files, communicate, and browse and share media files and information through a fully interactive media portal providing global access to media content and information. Colaborata overcomes differences in hardware, software, formats and other technical obstacles.

Wow. This is vintage 1998 "marketing collateral," warmed over for the new millenium. Scintillating stuff.

afterthought, 6-29-2005:
And furthermore, trademarking it! What better way could there be to make sure that no one else will ever use that phrase you're trying to popularize?

Tuesday, April 13

"m-commerce," R.I.P.

There's an entry at VentureBlog that looks at why the non-phenomenon formerly known as "m-commerce" was a total non-starter in the USA.
The author, Kevin Laws, theorizes that the US carriers were too short-sighted and control-crazed to see how they could make money by letting people buy stuff using mobile phones, and therefore strangled it.
We have a theory of our own, as indicated in our super high-profile buzzkiller column's take on that almost-burgeoning field in the former magazine known as [inside] back in '00: it's a stupid name for a bad idea put forth by a terrible industry (the US mobile phone industry, that is - the rest of the world seems to somehow have a much better grasp of how to do mobile-phone business).
The other possibility, of course, is that all those captains of industry were [inside] subscribers, saw our mockery of the whole m-commerce notion, and immediately decreed that all m-commerce initiatives be scuttled.

Tuesday, April 6

Hyphen, God of Mirage

DuCharmed, we're sure

From: ""
Date: Mon Apr 5, 2004 1:04:18 PM US/Pacific
Subject: world-class value-added hyphenation

See this press release:

Whoever wrote it did some did world-class, high-quality, content-centric, enterprise-class, mission-critical, leading-edge, world-leading, value-added work.

I swear, every one of those is actually used in the press release--some more than once. (As a game, find which one is used more than once *in the same paragraph*.)

stay vigilant,
Bob DuCharme

[ed. note: we sense an up-welling of non-sense as the technology start-up scene begins to stir again with new money. We welcome it.]

Wednesday, March 10

Hello, Fodder

Date: Wed Mar 10, 2004 5:19:55 AM US/Pacific
Subject: More Fodder

Hi! Just visited your Web site for the first time. Love it! Want to contribute!

We have a queue where people can request help from my department on their development projects. This was recently added to the queue:

Subject: Productionize Analytical Models

And if that wasn't a bad enough case of turning a noun into a verb, here's the first line of the description of the request, which turns a noun into a verb and then back into a noun again:

Description: Development and productionization of 21 analytical models ...

Oh! That felt good! Thank you for letting me get that off my chest!

Dawn Carter
Technical Writer and WebMistress

Tuesday, November 11

from the executive summit, held at the Kezar Bar in Cole Valley, USA:

summit summary: putting the blog page right up front seemed like a great way to give the site a more current, less static feel. but that line of thinking ignored the fact that we do not blog enough. we realize that the splash-page blog, untended, serves as evidence of our slackness.

resolution: we will blog more.

Wednesday, October 15


From: Adam Palmer
Date: Oct. 10, 2003
Subject: submission, courtesy of the Washington Post

Saw this article on Drudge, then read it and thought you guys would get a kick out of the third paragraph.
--Adam Palmer
Princeton Student Sued Over Paper on CD Copying
By Ben Berkowitz
Thursday, October 9, 2003; 6:07 PM

LOS ANGELES - Three days after a Princeton graduate student posted a paper on his Web site detailing how to defeat the copy-protection software on a new music CD by pressing a single computer key, the maker of the software said on Thursday it would sue him.

In a statement, SunnComm Technologies Inc. said it would sue Alex Halderman over the paper, which said SunnComm's MediaMax CD-3 software could be blocked by holding down the "Shift" key on a computer keyboard as a CD using the software was inserted into a disc drive.

"SunnComm believes that by making erroneous assumptions in putting together his critical review of the MediaMax CD-3 technology, Halderman came to false conclusions concerning the robustness and efficacy of SunnComm's MediaMax technology," it said.

SunnComm, which trades on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board, said it has lost more than $10 million of its market value since Halderman published his report.

The software was used on a CD, Anthony Hamilton's "Comin' From Where I'm From," released last month. Halderman, who has done research in the past on other CD protection technologies, said the software could also be disabled by stopping a driver the software loads on the computer when the CD is played.

SunnComm alleged Halderman violated criminal provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in disclosing the existence of those driver files.

Halderman -- who received an undergraduate degree from Princeton earlier this year and is now pursuing a doctorate in computer science with an emphasis on computer security -- said he had not yet heard directly from SunnComm in regards to litigation but was unconcerned.

"I'm still not very worried about litigation under the DMCA, I don't think there's any case," he told Reuters. "I don't think telling people to press the 'Shift' key is a violation of the DMCA."

A spokesman for BMG, the unit of Bertelsmann AG that licensed SunnComm's software and released the Hamilton CD, declined to comment on the planned suit.

The music industry, claiming a sharp decline in CD sales is the result of digital piracy through online file-sharing services, has worked to develop methods to secure music on discs and restrict its copying.

Halderman's graduate advisor at Princeton is Ed Felten, a computer science professor who once sued the Recording Industry Association of America in a challenge to the constitutionality of the DMCA.

The RIAA had threatened action under the DMCA against Felten and colleagues after they said they would publish a paper disclosing flaws in an industry security initiative. That suit was eventually dismissed.

Spend a dime on a gerund, please

From: Chris Snapp
Date: Oct. 9, 2003
Subject: "I am not making this up."

[ed note: who said that?]

Sheesh - it's hard enough to avoid gibberish as a flack - now the advertisers are jamming up the works with gobbledy-gook?

This is a verbatim clip from today's Line56 e-Business Weekly []:

Spend Data Management (SDM) noun.
Next-generation product solutions employing standards-based
strategies to leverage spend data for catalyzing ROI from sourcing
and ERP initiatives (Example: Global leaders embracing Zycus SDM to
achieve spend visibility and compliance)

Tuesday, October 14

Incentiary device

From: Jenni Hilton
Date: Oct. 7, 2003
Subject: I have one to add...

Hi - I worked at a sports marketing agency and they used "incentivize" in their presentations, much to my dismay...great web site!


Jenni Hilton
Marketing Manager

PC Remote Control, Asset Management & Computer Lab Software

[ed. note: nice mix of businesses at the end there.]

Monday, September 29

Five For Flighting

Overfunded bubble-baby startups may (please Gawd) be a strictly 20th-century phenomenon, but buzzwords will still crop up. Our gimlet-eyed field agents are on the case:
From: "Ault, Rob"
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2003 16:31:17 -0400
To: "''"

I saw three buzzwords today that need to be killed before they spread, so I thought I'd send them to you.

The words are

Flight,v. tr., as in "flight new commitments." The translation is "to schedule."

Flighting, gerund, as in "coordinate with John's strategy for flighting." I think "scheduling" would do just fine.

Syndicate, v. tr., as in "syndicate the plan with corporate." In the context of the original sentence, "share" with corporate would work well.

Rob Ault

Tuesday, August 12

Carly Corner

HP yesterday held what it called "Big Bang 2," its launch of over 100 consumer products, most of which would have had a hard time getting mentioned on gizmodo on their own ("HP launches slightly different camera!"). The event, held far enough west on Manhattan to make the site almost unreachable except by Segway, was memorable for one thing: in the keynote, Carly Fiorina seemed to criticize HP's habit of giving its products impossible-to-remember names. When holding up the new HP Scanjet 4670 Scanner, she said something to the effect of "The 4670 will .. actually I don't like the name. I prefer to call it 'Thin Mint'..." (I had dropped my reporters pad in excitement, thus the paraphrase). She kept calling it "thin mint" in the rest of her presentation.

The nickname doesn't make much sense: the scanner is sort of thin, but is neither mint colored nor breath-freshening when chewed. Still, it is a refreshing sign that perhaps real names are coming to a world that seems to take its cues from from the IRS.

we solute you

A grateful shout out to the Fast Company blog for pointing out a crack in our beaker. We've changed the motto to "pouring solvent on your 'solution,'" dropping the "confused," previously un-remarked-upon (and possibly previously un-viewed) "dropping the solvent in your 'solution.'" Salutations.

In our customary frenzy of blogging and linking, we couldn't help but notice that Heath Row, Fast Company's in-house Social Capitalist and blog critic, put on the rose-tinted raver shades to read yesterday's NYT piece on Fast Company by David Carr.

Carr's view:
"...Fast Company is clearly an enterprise that is staring down its own obsolescence. Since being bought in 2000 for an astounding $360 million by Gruner & Jahr USA, the American publishing division owned by Bertelsmann, Fast Company has swerved into the ditch....The number of advertising pages it carried last year were a little more than a third of the 2000 total. Newsstand sales — a good indicator of salience in the marketplace of ideas — are half of what they were in 2000. The jargon that drove the magazine — 'the brand of you' and 'social capitalist,' — seems as quaint and beside the point as the sock puppet."

Row's evaluation of the article, posted on FC's weblog, Fast Company Now:
"the future painted by the piece looks bright."

Hm. The only notable reference to the future in Carr's piece (which makes a passing reference to "the ashes of the unfortunately named eCompany Now,") is a quote from John A. Byrne, FC's new editor, who says: "There is nothing but upside here."

Wednesday, August 6

Eyes Only: Fire-Grilled salads!

Truly amazing stuff. A friend of the language (name withheld until we hear different) forwarded something intended solely for those with drops of Kool-Aid hanging from their chins. This intercepted communique was meant to remain snugly between Bain and the BK Lounge. But like a greasy patty, it slipped out and onto the buzz-sawing room floor. On the Internet, there is no five-second rule.

From: "jed morninducat"
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2003 09:19:57 -0500
Subject: We have a winner

Bain and Company accidentally e-mailed me a PPT presentation prepared for Burger King. The first slide was a classic. Titled "Salad Strategic Objective Statement," it read:

“Burger King will leverage its Fire-Grilled core asset and cooking advantage to be a potent competitor in the salads segment beginning in 2004. Burger King will offer a portfolio of standout, break-through salads to take advantage of market trends and consumer taste shifts, and significantly boost restaurant profitability”

ed. note: credit to Bain for the high-brow hyphen in "break-through." And I don't know about y'all, but this is precious inside info - as soon as the market opens, I'm shorting Mickey D (NYSE: MCD) big-time.

Friday, June 13

On the heels of our 10/15/02 post, this just in fr...

On the heels of our 10/15/02 post, this just in from Adam Behar, of, a worthy institution. Mr. Behar contends that the smug and unoriginal buzz of journalists in general - and us in particular - could use a little tamping down. Bonus element: writing tips for Joel Brinkley of the NYT...
I really enjoy when the media create their own cliches. My favorite is, "The announcement came on the heels of..." Broadcast and print can't live without it; I did a "google" search for the phrase and it confirmed by intuition: it's everywhere and, truthfully, quite embarrassing. I don't think your ilk is even aware of it. Makes you feel sorry for the much neglected "after." Why fall back on this cliche? It's a journalist who doesn't have enough confidence in his own writing, senses that the words themselves are not adequate to the job. He's selling his writing, creating artificial drama. Sad.

And of the resignation at the NY Times? Even sadder, because it's driven by ego and ambition. Can't let the poor intern or stringer have a byline, because it's all about my brand. Got to keep the illusion going. What makes me sick is that reporters--and, by the looks of your website, you guys are no exception--are mostly motivated by an inflated sense of self. And, I have to tell you, self-importance is just not a super attractive quality. Oh, I'm sorry, you guys are really guardians of democracy. I almost forgot.

I think of my brother and, even with his ph.d and m.d., he's as modest and unassuming as they come. There's something nice about that. Or my dad, a literary critic and retired professor, who's not trying so hard to show the world how smart he is.

>From today's New York Times (Joel Brinkley):

" important step along the path toward the envisioned "road map" peace agreement that calls for establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005."

Critique: don't adopt the administration's PR language. Call it what it is: a plan.

"Hamas's leaders still had to work to come to agreement among themselves before they could make an deal with Mr. Abbas."

Critique: Brinkley needs an editor or a better ghost-writer. don't need among themselves, since it's clear that the agreement refers to Hamas leaders.: "Hamas' leaders still had to come to agreement before they could make a deal with Mr. Abbas."

"In any case, Hamas has agreed to cease-fires more than once before since the latest uprising began in the fall of 2000. But they have always quickly broken down, with each side accusing the other for rekindling the violence."

Critique: Why "for rekindling" Better: "In any case, Hamas has agreed to cease-fires since the latest uprising began in fall 2000. But they have always quickly broken down, with each side accusing the other of rekindling the violence."

[end of transmission]
ed note: Solid points all around. Extra credit for slipping in a little PR on behalf of overachieving family members.

Tuesday, October 15

Rummmblings about a new buzzkiller venture afoot. Instead of just dissing everybody, we'll be giving awards! True, most of the awards will be for worst-such-and-such and for most-pointless-so-and-so, but it'll be a step in the right direction.

Thursday, August 8

One from Africa:

> From: Rosemary Ekosso
> Date: Mon, 5 Aug 2002 20:07:46 +0200 (CEST)
> To:
> Subject: Add Cameroon to US and Canada
> Hello!
> I think you should add Cameroon to your list of countries because I am right
> here in the heart of Africa with mosquitoes nipping at my ankles as I type.
> I am a conference interpreter, so while I hate buzzwords, I am forced to learn
> them becuse people insist on speaking like that.
> I'm sending mail by this means because I was unable to do so on your site. I
> suspect my server has legionnaire's disease, though I'm not quite sure.
> My pet hates:
> Good governance - it has now replaced plain old starvation as a reason for
> getting foreign aid.
> Interface - have even heard it used as a euphemism for intercourse of a more
> intimate kind.
> I tohugh I was was the only person below middle age who hated these things.
> Congratulations.
> Rosemary Ekosso
> Senior Translator/Conference Interpreter

[ed. note: Greetings, Rosemary!

It's great to hear from you, but terrible to hear that the buzzword pestilence has spread to the west coast of Africa. If only we could translate buzzwords into mosquito language and broadcast them over loudspeakers, the mosquitoes would stay away from conferences.

Thanks for the letter. ]

Monday, July 22

Here's a bunch of the sumbissions (sp!) we've heard recently. Chime in if you have any to add or if you think any of these folks are being a little too picky.
From: Lori Wilson
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2002 14:48:30 -0500
Subject: submission

How about "revolutionary?" We nixed that word in an ad we were editing today. It really seemed overused to us and, if you have to say something is revolutionary, it probably isn't -- or you probably haven't kept up with your competition.

Thank you,
Lori Wilson

From: "Des Walsh" (Australia)
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2002 17:22:50 +1000
Subject: going forward

going forward

as in

we expect significant upside going forward

they mean

we want you to believe we are going to make a profit next year even though
you know we've been losing money hand over fist for the past two years

What ever happened to
in future
next year

and so on?

Des Walsh
The WebArts Company
Sydney, Australia


[editor's note: lots of submissions from Down Under. we *love* the Aussies and Kiwis]

Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2002 14:05:22 +1000
Subject: word watch


I'm at B. School in Australia and send a regular email out to friends with my fav. outrageous jargon...i won't bore you with the usual (leverage etc).

My favourite past time at the moment is trying to use B. School jargon in everyday language. It's a hoot.

Here's some from the hit list:

"water-involved" - the water-involved are people who either own a filtration device and/or drink bottled water, but are NOT happy with the quality.

"effort neutral" - someone who does no goddamn work in a B. School syndicate group

"focuses on own scope" - as above

"at the end of the day" - good lord I'm sick of hearing this hackneyed phrase

"white/gray space" - eg The premise underlying the development of xxxStrategy is that "white/gray" space exists in the market around the provision of xxx services to mass/mass affluent customers and that xxx has competitive advantages and greater reason to tackle the opportunity.
interpretation (i think)
white space - market is wide open
gray space - it sort of isn't

"optimal abandonment rate"

"timing difference" - this was actually said by an Australian chairman asking his CEO "whether there was reason for concern about company cash flow or whether it was just a timing difference."! That is are we going down or are you just "technically" insolvent...

Best regards
Nicole Williamson

"talking cock" - means using B. School jargon

[ed. note: also describes a person who uses b. school jargon]


From: Tom Ziegler
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002 11:43:05 -0500
Subject: From the Do not Eschew Obfuscation Department:

I ran across this little gem while cruising the wires. I'm a writer for
Hoover's, which is a business information Web site. While I never get
pitches from pr twinks, I do have to navigate the goobbledy-gook of press
releases. Noticing the headline of the following release, I wondered just
what Avery Dennison does. A quick scan to the fourth paragraph revealed
that the company is "a global leader in pressure-sensitive technology and
innovative self-adhesive solutions for consumer products and label
You make stickers, you jerks.
Tom Ziegler
Trade and Consumer
Hoover's Online


From: "Guy Clapperton"
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 2002 17:18:49 +0100
Subject: Submission

So I get this voicemail yesterday offering me some 'exclusive research' from Unisys. They're doing one to ones on Thursday and Friday. And they call back today.

Me: I'm confused, in what way is this exclusive if they're doing one to
They: Well, Unisys has commissioned this research (READS CORPORATE SPIEL WITH NO ATTENTION TO MY QUESTION).
Me: And 'exclusive'?
They: Well, (NAMES TWO TITLES) have it at the moment so it's under embargo until 8 June when they come out, and after that it's up for grabs.
Me: So in other words you're offering exclusive research, but basically it's exclusive to someone else...

And they still didn't understand why I might not be interested.

Guy Clapperton


From: Chris Bell
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 16:30:17 +1200
Subject: Going forward

Greetings, Buzzkillers.

Do people over there say "going forward" when what they really mean is "at some unspecified time in the future"? I'm afraid New Zealanders appear to have picked it up from visiting US business people. It drives me nuts. Certain Martin Amis novels apart, time only moves in the one direction: Forward.

I thus nominate "going forward" for inclusion in the hallowed ranks of Buzz.

Chris Bell
MIS (Managing Information Strategies)
Fairfax Business Media
New Zealand


From: "Malecek, Chris"
Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2002 08:06:28 -0500
To: "''"
Subject: Monument to Mendacity

The news release from Qwest announcing Nacchio's demise. Wow. The quotes
from Joe are priceless. He's proud of all that he's accomplished (would
that be the 92% decline in the stock, the $26.6 billion in debt or the SEC
investigation into accounting practices?)

By the way, it probably wasn't Qwest that insist Joe maintain his residency
in New Jersey -- and I'll bet he wasn't flying home on United.
Joe Nacchio said, "I am proud of all that we have accomplished in bringing
Qwest to this point. After criss-crossing the globe for five and one-half
grueling years to build Qwest, living in two different cities, and having
achieved our major goals, I have expressed my desire to spend more time with
my family and pursue other opportunities."
Nacchio continued, "The company's fundamentals are strong and it will have
enormous opportunities in the period ahead as Qwest reduces debt and as the
regional economy recovers. Operationally, Qwest's local service results are
at record highs, long-distance approval is within reach and Qwest has the
infrastructure in place to serve its growing market share in enterprise
accounts and to offer long-distance in its region almost immediately after
approval. I look forward to assisting in the transition."


From: "David Kleinman"
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 17:49:05 +0000
Subject: Keeping it unreal

Oh, come now. At least half of the buzzwords used by publicists, hacks and
corporate flacks come from the de facto publicists, hacks and corporate
flacks who call themselves journalists. If you'd spend more time reading
something other than press releases, you'd know that it's the media itself
that has become a prime incubator for jargon and fluff. Just watch the
Washington press corps lob soft balls at the so called president after one
of his so called press conferences. Do something to help restore real
journalism - and the buzzwords will take care of themselves. This nitpick
aside, I find your site amusing, in an annoying sort of missing-the-point
sort of way.


From: "Christopher Davis"
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 16:55:36 -0400
Subject: next level -- argh!!!

re buzzboard:
what about "next level"? argh!!! CD

Thursday, June 6

Friday, May 24

Nice job on the blogs, you guys. really filling it up. yeah!

Friday, May 17

I think it's good.

Waxler, Woolley: start throwing some blog posts up here.

Tuesday, May 14

We are lively-up on buzzkiller 2.0. This blog page is the final frontier.

Monday, May 13

We've had lots of new subscriptions in the last couple of weeks. Also lots of new submissions. Seems our site was mentioned in a newsletter whose name I'm trying to find right now. I'd like to give a little love back to them.

Our new site design looks a little bit like this blogger page here, except much cleaner, of course. Clarity is the goal.

Tuesday, February 5

Received this from a reader today:
"I swear this phrase appeared in a PowerPoint presentation that crossed my
screen today: 'cannibalize competitive adjacencies.' Personally, I think it's the 4th sign of the Apocalypse."
You can almost hear the hoof beats that preceded the screen. Anyone have any definition for -- or defense of -- "adjacencies"?

Friday, January 25

Two interesting things we've learned after the latest release from Buzzkiller:
1) almost 20% of the our subscribers are no longer at their addresses or, more likely, have given up on e-mail and returned to carrier pigeons.
2) the misuse of the English language continues. We've gotten some nice new candidates for the buzzboard, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 23

Man. Somebody must have dropped a big fat rohypnol tablet into our drink. Nine months since we updated this thing. You know what they say: still waters run deep. What the hell does that mean?

Well, it's back on. In a big way. We just put up an all-new page of unbridled sneering and cheap shots aimed at the users of buzzwords and silly marketing argot. Dig it.

Wednesday, April 25

Update on the CNN thing: turns out it was the real deal. Mark from Polyvision TV Watching*, an excellent fellow, has decided to lay that VHS tape on us free of charge. It was actually CNNfn, where someone from eTour (the guys who brought Mahir to America) went on and talked about us and a couple of other sites. Groovy. That's why we got all those emails at the end of March.
Thanks for the tape, Mark. The chances that we'll offer the streaming video of the show on our site are slim, due to the technical limitations of the team. Ah, well. At least we'll have some fine times sitting around the TV and watching it at buzzkiller HQ, once we get that thing built.

*The company hooked us up with the tape and then asked us to not use their name. Okay.

Monday, April 2

We received an email this morning alleging that had been featured on CNN on Friday and offering to send us the videotape for $187.50. A day-late April Fool's trick?:

> >> From:
> >> Reply-to:
> >> To:
> >> Subject: Segment on CNN
> >> Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 11:02:56 -0400
> >>
> >> Hello,
> >>
> >> On Friday, was featured on CNN. Our company, Polyvision TV Watching*, is a nationwide monitoring service that offers video clips and digital delivery to companies that are featured on television. I would be happy to send you a professional copy of the segment on VHS tape and via digital delivery. The cost is $120.75 for a VHS copy, or $287.50 for VHS with digital delivery (RealPlayer) which I can have to you as soon as this afternoon.
> >>
> >> If this is of interest to you let me know, and I can simply bill you for what you need.
> >>
> >> Thank you,
> >>
> >> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> >> Mark

> >> Polyvision TV Watching*
> >>

*Name of company changed in exchange for them hooking us up with the videotape. We were saddened that they feared being mentioned on our site, but we really wanted the tape.

Tuesday, February 13

The site was mysteriously mangled. eEzD raised the alarm. Our main page, buzzsaw.html, had somehow disappeared. So had this blogger page. Hmm. We'd suspect foul play, but we can't figure out who on earth would have a motive to mess with the site. We fixed it. Oh, yes, we're taking precautions. You betcha.

Thursday, February 8

[A-ha! This just in from "Steve Jones," the journalist who posted that ridiculous query to Prof Net on behalf of Vice Magazine. As suspected, "jones" was and agent provocateur, fishing for credulous buzzword-mongers -- and finding them.]

Date: Sun, 4 Feb 2001 02:02:06 -0500 (EST)
From: steve jones
Subject: Vice Magazine ProfNet


I just checked your site for the first time in a long while and I wanted to let you know that the ProfNet I sent for Vice magazine was indeed a load of hooey. I did it to see how many people would respond sincerely. In the end I only received two responses calling my bullshit, out of a total of roughly 20 responses. The rest were "legitimate" pitches.

I sent it for a story I was working on at the time, but never finished. If it ever makes the page, I'll be sure to let you know.

"Steve Jones"

[note: No wonder he abandoned the story. The obliviousness to buzz badness exhibited by 90% of his respondents would have been soul-crushing to anyone with an innate faith in human nature.]

Tuesday, January 23

[This stern rant astutely identifies buzzword abuse as the root of the recent tech sector meltdown]

Subject: You are not the only victims
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2001 18:56:16

I would be less concerned than I am if the problems you identify were limited to incompetent flaks. After all, it's easy to ignore them, and, as most people do ignore them, they cause little harm.

Unfortunately, the problems have spread to the real world where real people try to raise real money and consume real assets that might otherwise be dedicated to something productive. These real people, many of whom otherwise are smart, waste their time producing business plans for start-ups that actually are based on useful, viable technologies but which go into the recycling pile because they tell us nothing meaningful about the technologies.

I don't know if this is because they view venture capitalists as Pavlovian-trained lemmings who respond best to buzz words or because they hire flaks to edit "marketing-oriented" business plans. Whatever the cause, the shame is that decent engineers with decent ideas that they could articulate reasonably well produce "polished" business plans that incite no interest.

Keep up the fun.

Thursday, December 14

{Just in: an observation or two from the Great White North, pointing the finger at the media.
I must agree that once a buzzword makes the jump from press release or marketing materials to editorial territory, all is lost. I think the leading vector of lexical infection must be analysts. Analysts and consultants.}
Dear Buzzkiller,
Just a few random observations on the rise of buzzwords:
Do you think Wired magazine should take any responsibility for the dramatic rise in buzzwords since the early-1990s? That Wired Style Guide--published by Wired's book publishing arm HardWired--couldn't have helped anyone. It argued that jargon is *good*. Should they be held responsible for reparations--say, bundling a copy of Strunk & White's Elements of Style 3rd Edition along with Wired Style?
The current crop of e-business magazines (Fast Company, Business 2.0, The Industry Standard, etc.) have mastered the editorial voice of the
knowledgeable insider--the same voice pioneered by pop culture mags decades ago. Since they have to appeal to their audience of under-35 "e-preneurs" (gag) and older VCs who should know better, do you think we'll ever see plain English within their pages? Is there a way to force these mags to grow up, say, forcing the editors to read their own back issues so they can see how trendy and silly they sound in retrospect? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Just sign me,
Nostalgic for English in Canada

Thursday, October 19

Here's a model pitch. It came from a real flack in NYC who surfs long Island and knows his way around the wheels of steel.
" You know of course mobile computing will enable end-users or early adapter road-warrior knowledge workers pervasive access to mission critical corporate data anywhere, anytime. Think about it - trade stocks and take a dump at the same time. Have sex with your wife and still track that shipping order to Singapore. Or email your wife with a wireless device that sends from your work email address while you have sex with your girlfriend."
Talk about making pitches relevant!
Having re-read the message below and having done a bit more investigating as to the nature of Vice Magazine, I believe that the message posted on ProfNet was a hoax, a trick, a trap. Therefore, this Steve Jones, if he exists, or his creator deserves props for tossing that spanner into the PR machine.

Tuesday, October 3

As has been pointed out in the past, we in the press are often just as guilty as flacks of perpetuating buzzwords. But what in the name of Hanuman, the monkey deity, was this reporter thinking when he posted this to ProfNet?:
> technology supplement, I would like to talk to leaders in the
> industry about the best-of-breed, turnkey b-to-b solutions providers using
> the ASP model to leverage end-to-end click-and-mortars for e-tailing and
> vortal development. Vice is a free monthly magazine circulated throughout
> North America and England in clothing stores, music stores, coffee shops and
> other businesses. Need leads by October 29. >>> Steve Jones
> [c::9/26:2825]
Before we flog our first brother, we need to find out if this is for real. Anyone respond to this request? Or was this some sort of desperate attempt to get noticed by the Saw? Let us know.

Wednesday, September 27

I added a bran-spanky new buzz term to the Buzz Board today, bypassing the on-deck circle. The term is "architecting," a degenerate gerund derived from a non-existent verb.

Wednesday, August 30

Here, verbatim, is the subject line of an email received this morning: "Let's Talk Professional Services Supply Chain Apps.-- more specifically, Collections Management." Let's! What is it about subject lines that turns even the best PR professionals into buzzword-crazy hacks? Why not take a page from the NY Post, which today ran the headline "The Bride Wore Blues" over a story about newlyweds who left their gifts in the back of a cab? I'll read that.

Tuesday, August 29

Just received this from a PR director at a major telco:
> Please add "end user" to your list of horrific buzz words!
> I've hated it for 20 years and I still hate it today.
> What, I ask, is wrong with the word "customer?"
> Or, God forbid, "person?"
> I recently had the joy of editing a release that used the phrase
> "successful end user experience." You have to wonder ...
> do people who write like that ever have sex?
> And if they do ... do they consider an orgasm a
> "successful end user experience?"

Excellent points. We hate to inject morality in to the Buzz Saw, but shouldn't phrases like that be left in the bedroom? Consider "end user" officially banned.

Monday, August 28

As our consultants have told us many times, the Buzz Saw's core competency is in the thriving B2C buzzword space. However, when notified by one of our readers of a bizarre intraB buzzword, we couldn't help but post the letter. Read here to learn about the-soon-to-be-dreaded E>Tizing.

Tuesday, August 22

Added a page that shows where the site has been written about. It is too okay to end a sentence in a preposition, isn't it, Fight Club?

Also, the historical debate over the origin of the phrase "open the kimono" continues.

Tuesday, August 15

Added a new love letter to the letters page.
A follower has asked us to make "enterprise" a buzzword, noting, "It's a starship, not a way to define a product market."
Thoughts? send them to

Tuesday, August 8

A reader writes: "Thank you for including 'solution(s)' as a buzzword that desperately needs to die. When I recently received a letter that used the word eleven times in 1-1/2 pages of text, I wrote the company in return and reminded them that another definition of 'solution' is something that is diluted or watered down. I then asked them if they appreciated having their products looked upon from that perspective.
The press certainly tends to proliferate buzzwords. I go crazy when I hear a journalist use the word 'literally' when he really means 'figuratively', for instance, which seems to happen a lot....
I believe that many use buzzwords to try to sound trendy and smart, but to me, they sound derivative and redundant. Thank you again for pointing out these overused terms"

You're welcome.
The following exchange provides a glimpse into the byzantine workings of the Buzz Saw filter and the ideology behind those workings. Bonus: some positive feedback from the Buzz Saw for a change.

>> From: "Andrew Sprung"
>> Organization: Andrew Sprung Public Relations
>> Reply-To: "Andrew Sprung"
>> Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 14:55:26 -0400
>> To: "The Buzz Saw"
>> Subject: Re: Giants crowd into e-comm services for small biz
>>I believe the buzz saw is applied indiscriminately.
>Mr. Sprung,
>This is a serious charge indeed. The Buzz Saw is governed by a
>set of hand-crafted operational instructions which cause it to
>detect buzzwords and react. Ruthless, perhaps, but not
>When the graphics-bloated page finishes downloading, you will see
>a list of terms that the Buzz Saw is instructed to regard as
>undesirable. One of the words,"rob*st," appears in your
>"Giants crowd into..." email. Another term, "best of bre*d,"
>appears in your "100,000 e-stores..." email (props to you,
>however, for lively use of the words "festooned" and "jacked").
We can't help but reminisce about the time USA Today declared us a Hot New Site (see 8/7/00 post). Sadly, the paper has since moved on to newer, hotter sites, leaving us off the list. It's true what The Boss says: "Glory day, it'll pass you by."
However, while is no longer considered hot by the nation's paper of record, it will forever remain lukewarm thanks to the Hot New Site archive.

Monday, August 7

Just received this email: "Your web site is interesting - but would be more so if you offered alternatives for the words you so clearly hate -- jessica michaud, v.p. marketing and public relations,"
Jessica, we respectfully disagree: the purpose of buzzword eradication is not to replace one buzzword with another. However, in good faith, we offer this fix: Instead of "interactive," why not try "horse-drawn carriage"?
Welcome to the Inner Saw: the place where we let you know what's new at the Buzz Saw. To day's big news: we've added this page. Also, we've been selected by USA Today as a Hot
New Site
. The good fight continues.