Word Choices

[YouTubeby RSA Animate – 10:54"]

Sherry Lowry over at the SxSW panel picker site gives really good feedback. I'd like to riff off her comment as I start a new series of conversations that bridge technology and business.

As I said in my response to Lowry, her feedback made me think about words a little more (I'm a linguist, I do geek out on words and expressions) and inspired further thinking. My point of view on the topic is that learning to see things differently requires also some unlearning.

This is especially valid when it comes to assumptions.

To put it in quantum physics terms, adding a tone connotation borrowed from use has made much terminology play the bad guy, when it is our thinking to precipitate the thought. In Star Trek terms, to make it so.

For example, the iPhone and then the iPad employed a disruptive technology: Both devices helped create a new market and value network. It eventually upset the existing market and value network (which takes longer to do, in some cases decades), displacing an earlier technology.

From Wikipedia:

 The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.

This part of the definition does not tell the full story. Clayton Christensen evolved the term from disruptive technology into disruptive innovation, because he felt it is the business model the technology enables that creates the disruptive impact.

However, I would like to focus on the technology itself, because disruptive technology also shows new possibilities and goes beyond hype. This happens at a time when platforms mature, and we have a return to less complexity and more utility.

I hinted at the prevalent conversation in: When you're speaking in slogans rather than solutions.

Watching the video by RSA Animate I embedded here, you can see some of the human dynamics and mechanisms involved in the mixed media models of today – freemiums and frenemies – create constant tension between sentiments of communality and reciprocity.

The very fact that we may have overt communications mixed with assumed behaviors on the social Web, familiarity with strangers, marketing tactics embedded with regular people conversations, make things more confusing.

Yet, these emerging models can work when the context and the expectation are set properly within the language of solutions. Explicit language provides mutual knowledge, says Steve Pinker. Relationships are maintained and nullified by a mutual knowledge of the relationship type.

Do we have relationships with businesses and brands beyond liking, even loving, the products and services? My take is that commerce is not a popularity contest. At the heart of commerce is the value of your promise and the wisdom of the trade.

Those are the things that earn your place in the market. A technology is disruptive when it helps a business make and keep the best of all promises and get in exchange the things that go to making that business stronger, more resilient, and enduring.


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0 responses to “Word Choices”

  1. That was a pretty interesting video, Valeria. Thanks for sharing. You kinda lost me at “quantum physics,” but I get where you’re going with this one.
    Gets me thinking, a lot of brand communications use indirect language to imply things, but this leads to individual knowledge, whereas, if they would just come out and say what they want people to do (“buy our crap”), everyone would know that everyone else knows the same message and we could all go about our business.
    It’s more than that, I’m sure, but it’s pretty interesting.

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