What if you lose the right to your company name … and the name is your own? When it happened to fashion designer Kate Spade, she changed not only the brand name but her own. (The Fashion Law, via Catchword)
The strange case – as in legal case – of the Hasbro toy hamster named Harris Faulkner and the Fox News anchor named Harris Faulkner: “either a really weird coincidence or some very niche cross-marketing on Hasbro’s part.” (Consumerist)
What if business jargon were made literal and tangible? Artists Isabel + Helen take on that challenge with A Load of Jargon, an installation opening tomorrow at The Conran Shop in London’s Chelsea district. The exhibit turns five buzzwords – “thinking cap,” “big idea,” “next steps,” “easy win,” and “going viral” into visual puns. There’s a public-health imperative behind the humor, notes FastCo Design in a story about the show: “[C]orporate speak isn't just funny sounding (and fuzzy in meaning)—it actually can make you less intelligent.” (Hat tip: Silicon Valley Speak.)
Good news for liberal-arts majors: “Behind Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are not just software engineers. Increasingly, there are poets, comedians, fiction writers, and other artistic types charged with engineering the personalities for a fast-growing crop of artificial intelligence tools.” (“The Next Hot Job in Silicon Valley Is for Poets,” Washington Post.)
“From the very first moment I heard of the .io TLD a few years ago, I thought it was absolutely fantastic. The geek in me just really responded to the idea of a domain name that ended in IO - the input/output connotation seemed like a perfect fit for web services.” In praise of the .io domain extension. (Russell Beattie)
Bill Simmons, who was ousted by his ESPN overlords from the sports-and-pop-culture site Grantland (which ESPN later shut down, to the general wailing and weeping of the site’s many fans), is starting a new site that promises to be similar to Grantland. He’s calling it The Ringer. Here’s his account of how he arrived at the name, apparently without any professional help, poor fellow. (Hat tip: Lance Knobel)
And for those of you who, like me, care about journalism and its future, here’s “Confessions of a Sponsored Content Writer,” by Jacob Silverman for The Baffler. I hope he was well paid for it, because it’s dynamite, but given the doleful state of affairs he reveals, it’s unlikely. Here’s a tiny excerpt:
But as journalists imitate advertisers and advertisers imitate (and hire) journalists, they are converging on a shared style and sensibility. Newsfeeds and timelines become constant streams of media—a mutating mass of useless lists, videos, GIFs, viral schlock, service journalism, catchy charts, and other modular material that travels easily on social networks—all of it shorn of context. Who paid for this article, why am I seeing it, am I supposed to be entertained or convinced to buy something? The answers to these questions are all cordoned off behind the algorithmic curtain.
Stuart Elliott, who used to be the New York Times’s advertising columnist, now writes about ads for Media Village. Here’s his take on the commercials that aired during Super Bowl 50. (“Though it's the biggest feel-good day of the year, Madison Avenue tried hard to bring viewers down – not only with those commercials, but also with spots with strange, off-putting and downright weird characters and premises.”
The ABC Family network, stigmatized by that F-word in its name, now calls itself Freeform. Network president Tom Ascheim told the Television Critics Association that the new name “not only elicits the moment of transition in the medium and a sense of ‘creativity’ and ‘spontaneity’ but also evokes [a] younger 14 to 34-year-old audience, whom he’s dubbed ‘becomers’.” So much to ponder in that single sentence. (Hollywood Reporter)
As for the Freeform logo, Brand New dismisses it as “atrocious in either its stacked or horizontal form.”
Into the final weeks of 2015 with one final link roundup!
Lucy Kellaway,who writes about language and writing for the Financial Times,has created Guffipedia, “a repository for the worst jargon I’ve seen over the years.” All the devils are here: onboard more resource, flex-pon-sive, diverse hairdos, etc. ad nauseam. “The point of Guffipedia,” writes Kellaway, “is not just for you to admire the extent of my guff collection, but to help me curate it going forward, as they say in Guffish.” Good point of entry: the many Guffish euphemisms for you’re fired. (Hat tip: Molly Walker.)