CNET - Web Business - Bad Buzzwords - 7/30/99
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 CNET : Web Building : E-business : Bad Buzzwords
Fredric Paul: The Big Picture Fredric Paul: The Big Picture
Bad Buzzwords

Every industry has its own jargon, that special lexicon designed to separate the insiders from the dilettantes. That's especially true of new and fast-growing industries, where everyone is scrambling to appear like an insider, even if they heard about it only a month ago.

But this is ridiculous. The Internet is drowning in annoying, silly, close-to-meaningless buzzwords. New, hipper-than-thou terms are sprouting faster than overpriced IPOs and spreading faster than the Melissa virus.

In a sense, you can't really blame people. When things are changing rapidly, it's all too easy to fall back on a buzzword instead of really thinking about what you want to say. It's always tempting to use buzzwords to convince someone else you know what you're talking about, whether you actually do know what you're talking about.

Well, I'm fascinated by the emergence of these words, terrifyingly self-referential though many may be. It's like listening to an etymological trainwreck as the language gets twisted, melted, and distorted to keep up with technology advancements and marketing requirements of the Internet.

Take a look at these 37 signs o' the times, divided into my own completely arbitrary categories. Then add your own in the Builder Buzz. Or, if you'd rather, defend the buzzwords you think I've unfairly maligned. Just do me one favor, will you? Don't get too mad if you catch me using some of these buzzwords.

(Thanks to Susan Pieper Baily, Jeff Goldsmith, Susan Smith Hendrickson, Sylvia Lee, Julie Pitta, Kim Wimpsett, and Sally Zahner for help identifying buzzword offenders.)

People, Not Technology

  People, Not Technology
  Over the Hill
  Bandwagon Specials
  Preposterously Vague
  Simply Unpleasant
  Stretches of Laziness
  Big Words, Little Ideas
  Gilding the Lily
  The Hall of Fame

Fredric Paul is a contributing editor to CNET and editorial director of, which provides solutions for growing businesses.

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