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Jailbreak, compulsory-volunteering and other verbal baggage

27 Apr

Time once again for a look at words and expressions that creep up on us –or as someone about twenty years younger would say, “creep me out.”

“Did you jailbreak your iPhone?” To a lot of people not involved in a tech world they wonder what the heck you are talking about. Jails and phones don’t go hand in hand unless you tend to read Mossberg or Wired as bedtime stories. What ever happened to the old word “hack?” So much easier to understand. I know, I know, jailbreak speaks to  Steve Jobs’ obsession with a locked down phone and the so-called walled gardens such as Facebook. Jailbreak is the semantic enemy of Open Source, I am told. Which brings me to…

Walled Gardens. The phrase has been around but it’s always being brought back. I deliberately said ‘so-called walled garden’ and added the Facebook reference so people understand what this obscure expression is all about. Wikipedia has a decent entry on it, so I won’t go into it. By the way, there’s lot of talk that Facebook is opening the gates to its walled garden, but that idea still needs to be explored –or flushed out?

Flesh-out or Flush-out? As Andrea Goulet, a copywriter whose  blog is worth reading, notes that both expressions are used as a handle for brainstorming, but both have a yuck factor.

Edupunk. I have never heard of the word, but it makes perfect sense. It’s a sorrt of rebellion to standardized teaching methods. As Christopher Sessums explains, “Edupunk is … a sociohistorical reaction to an educational system that has allowed textbooks, tests, politicians, and schools of education to supervise teachers and create curricula that takes away educators’ professional responsibilities to build their own.”

Desertification. I heard Secretary Clinton use this in her Greening Diplomacy address. No she did not coin the word (there’s a long Wikipedia entry on it), and a desertification blog by a professor in Belgium.

Compulsory volunteering. Trust the government to come up with an oxymoron like this. The British govt, in this case. Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a case for this earlier in the month.

REASON I RAISE THIS: I often talk to people about writing, and people believe writing is very challenging and complicated. It is, if you bring all the baggage of buzz words and industry jargon. The moment you put pencil to paper or open up a Word template, the baggage seems to burst open and the jargon gets strewn all over your pretty page. Just be yourself, and strip out the jargon, and it’s suddenly very easy.

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