Gawker bans Internet slang

One of the stickiest problems in education is the issue of language and dialect. Schools tend to teach kids a variety of English that is used by the middle and upper classes. This can alienate kids from poorer backgrounds - why do we need the learn the language of the oppressor?

Basil Bernstein's work says: because if you want to explain new ideas, you need a different style of language ("elaborated code") than the day-to-day vernacular ("restricted code"). "Restricted/condensed code is therefore great for shared, established and static meanings (and values): but if you want to break out to say something new, particularly something which questions the received wisdom, you are going to have to use an elaborated code."

2/12/2014 Update: interesting take on the cultural functions of the restricted code. Also points out that Bernstein's later work became more specific about how language reproduces the division of labor.

More meaningless business idioms that signify the speaker is an unthinking robot*

Anna asked about this and I couldn't come up with enough in real time. I've done this before.

  • Key, e.g. "key drivers of profitability". Accused of: vagueness. Usually used as a synonym for "most important", but even that's too vague. Important why? Are they statistically most predictive? Are they the drivers most important for you to act on in the long term? Or just the most important for purposes of today's discussion?
  • Choiceful. For fuck's sake.
  • Drill down, e.g. "drill down to the key drivers of profitability." Nothing inherently wrong with it, I'm just sick of hearing it.

*I don't mean to sound contemptuous. I've used all of these, even choiceful. It's all love. Love and tireless self-criticism in the service of the revolution.

"'Political jokes weren't a form of active resistance but valves for pent-up public anger.'" And the understanding that inspired such humor makes the inaction that accompanied it all the more unforgiveable: "...the country wasn't possessed by 'evil spirits' nor was it hypnotised by the Nazis' brilliant propaganda, he says. Hypnotized people don't crack jokes."

Before you make the understandable misinterpretation, I think the Daily Show et al provide a valuable service in exposing the vapidity of current political discourse. But if it's a narcotic (it is) let it be an amphetamine, not an anaesthetic.

Lexical and semantic tools applied to words. "Search for words that are (connected to, part of, rhyme with, synonymous with, etc) this word."

Blog on data visualization and data visualization art.

Presentation Zen
"blog on issues related to professional presentation design"

See for example No excuse for tedium: Advice on giving technical presentations.
Dictionary/encyclopedia/thesaurus etc that draws on multiple sources, including the Houghton Mifflin dictionary and wikipedia. This is the online dictionary I'll use from now on, and possibly my online encyclopedia of choice as well.

cliches to be eliminated from music writing
"sounds like a (noun) (preposition or verb) a (noun)", e.g. "the latest kompakt single sounds like a grizzly fighting a supercomputer"

"skirts the edge / straddles the line between ____ and ____"

How to Deconstruct Almost Anything
I would like to read a response to this. Eric, did you have to get into this stuff for Folk & Myth?

See, the reason I don't have a readership is because whereas a good blogger, reading an article like this one, would post a point-by-point rebuttal, I just post something like "George Lakoff sucks." And he does, he really does.

the pyramid principle
Book about writing - both documents and presentations - by a woman who used to teach the subject at McKinsey.
(cheap enough at amazon uk that it might actually be worth buying)

visual language
Make better slides.

Schopenhauer - The Art of Controversy
Advanced bad-faith argumentation judo.

This is a place for me to collect examples of management jargon, with the hope of excising it from my working vocabulary.
going forward
at the end of the daythis one is out of fashion now
take-awayusually "key take-away"
bring to bear
track record
facts on the ground
build one.g., "I'd like to build on what John said . . . "
touch base
I just want to...

The Economist's style guide
Has a lot of the same advice Strunk and White do, the difference is that it's not as memorable. I still have a little man in my head, grabbing his lapels and shouting, "omit needless words!"

The section on cliches is good, though. Like your father finding you with a smoke and making you finish the whole pack.

TV moves too fast...I don't understand...

Web discussions, also. It's fine to be spontaneous, but being vague, or thinking that your tone will spin the content in your readers' minds the way you think it will, isn't. People tend to write in their own personal shorthand online, which is great for individuality, but poor for understanding. Slow down. What did you mean by that, again? Read one of Plato's dialogues and see how slowly it moves, and how often Socrates will ask someone to back up and define a term they've used.

remora: Strunk and White, if they critiqued the web, and used expressions like "you tedious, pathetic bastards."

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