Sunday, 12 April 2009

Paraphraseitis & The Quest For An Original Thought

Have you ever looked at a really fancy diagram in a blog post or slideshare presentation and thought, wow....that's really smart. Digital thought leaders using new phrases I've never seen in a context that appears to be completely original. Words like 'experience vertical design' 'cross-calibrated networked scenrios ' 'transformative media types' ...the list goes on and on.

And then did you take second look. And think...

Hold on a second...

They've just renamed stuff.

They just called marketing planning some new fandangled digital phrase.
They've just paraphrased what was formally known as a creative brief.

Hold on a second, what's going on here?

And then you realize that this isn't a new thought at all. It isn't original. It's something far more sinister.

It's what I call "paraphraseitis".


Paraphraseitis: In the quest for an original thought and personal brand building, an expert, usually in the field of digital communications, renames something old and attempts to turn it into something new. They often then put it into diagram form, and distribute it through social media and RSS feeds thus getting notoriety through retweets and blog posts cheering their new great word/phrase discovery

What's the real issue here isn't that it bugs me (which it does) but that it actually is a detriment to what i do every day. It confuses people. It makes clients think they don't know 'what's going on with this digital stuff' when actually, they do.

It makes them think that there is some magic that they don't have powers in that only these shiny new Internet experts with their new diagrams, fancy new processes and fantabulous new phrases can explain.

Here's my personal ask. If there is already a phrase for it, let's use that. If there is a job that is close already, let's just use that word instead of making up a new one. And if it isn't an original thought? That's ok. Just reference what it really is. No one will judge you for it.

As for the quest for a real original thought? If you don't have to work hard for something, it's probably not worth having.

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