The written word


In further evidence that the world is losing its written word … read the article referenced below by the BBC (typically a high brow source of prose). The sentences are complete, no misspellings that I detected, the grammar seems fine, but to say there is no narrative flow is a unjust compliment that needs correction … this is a stinking pile of shite and should not be allowed on a website with a brand like the BBC’s.


It feels like someone did a google search on “Bin Laden” and then randomly took sentences from the search result, put them together, and called it an article!  One of the simple pieces of advice I tell my teams is that a paragraph is – by definition – a logical grouping of contextually related sentences. A group implies a number greater than 1 and therefore if your paragraphs are only one sentence this is a red flag. The first six “paragraphs” in this article are just one sentence. Yikes.


I’m glad that Bin Laden is dead. I’m sorry to hear that the English language is dying too.


Bin Laden: Pakistan says world intelligence failed

– BBC Website, 4 May 2011

Google’s Ngram Project

Harvard and Google have teamed up to create the Ngram project which searches through all of Google Books since 1800 and looks for references to certain keywords. This helps to identify interesting – although not always scholarly – trend analysis on what people were viewing as important topics of the time. Case in point, did you know that the age old “apples versus oranges” debate has always had a clear winner? Yes it’s Apples now, Apples then, and based on current trend … Apples in the future that will capture the publics imagination more. That said, what can only be seen as a worrying trend is Tomatoes rise to prominence at the expense of the venerable Orange which can only be seen as struggling to hold relevancy.




Poor Oranges; will they make a comeback? Who knows but keep your browser pointed at Ngram and you can keep up to date on this worrying trend.


p.s. in a less interesting but related topic, check out Google Fight:

Funny Foreign Marketing

Whenever travelling to foreign lands its interesting to see the variety of products and language used in marketing. In Malaysia – where Kabuki and I just returned from – there were three categories that i noticed:

  1. Flowery language with no real meaning. Unfortunately I didn’t capture this on film but there were a tremendous number of examples of people falling in love with a set of words strung together but that actually means absolutely nothing. This probably happens in all markets to some degree but the extent and volume of silliness was quite noticeably higher in Malaysia; even in high-end stores and hotels.
  2. Ambiguous Analogies/Associations. Describing products in ways that are incongruous with the product … I mean, is any facial scrub really “fascinating"? 
  3. Wacky/Weird Products. Sheep Placenta? Really? Needless to say I didn’t buy any and I don’t think I’ll be able to reverse this decision when back in London due to a general lack of interest in sheep placenta in the western market.


Taxonomy and Ontology

Ever wonder what the difference is between a Taxonomy and an Ontology? These terms seem to come up more and more as we move content into the digital relm and the classification systems we use need to mature to navigate exponentially more information. In any case, outside of “sounding important” these terms do hold meaning but their usage is blurry for many people using them (including me) so I did what any responsible netizen would do I googled it and found this discussion on Ask Metafilter particularly good at answering my question: