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My "space" pet-peeve

Clips from just three articles that I've read today, all linked to from the MSN home page:

""There has been a lot of debate in the Linux space that has been focused on the emotion and focused on the technology,'' said Peter Houston, senior director of server strategy for Microsoft."

""I'm surprised Microsoft has let Adobe own this space as long as they have," said Paul DeGroot, lead analyst for research firm Directions on Microsoft."

And the following all from one article:

"But the question is whether it's too late already for Yahoo to begin competing in the search space, because in many ways a Google search is more effective for individual searches than going to a directory."

"Asked whether the acquisition indicated competitive jitters about Google, Yahoo said that its chief executive, Terry Semel, had proclaimed months ago that search was a "high priority" for the company, and that the company was "committed to being a leader in this space.""

""Recently, a lot of companies have started to focus on search again as a cornerstone of the services they provide," said Stephen Kim, an analyst with comScore Networks. "The interest level has really ratcheted up with almost anyone in the space.""

Am I the only person who is completely annoyed by the use of the word "space" in this context?

It drives me crazy for some reason. It totally smacks as some new age polite and non-confrontational term that should have rightfully died along with the Internet bubble and all of the Dot-com business plans based on GBF and throwing money at a concept without any real profit-based strategy. It is not a "space". We're not communist or socialists operating in a vacuum, this is a capitalist society and it is a market or a sector. Anyone calling it anything else (especially a "space") just sounds ignorant and I most certainly won't be investing in their business or ideas until they think about how they sound and call a spade a spade.

Ok, rant off now.

What do you guys think? Does it sound as stupid to you?


Wednesday, December 25, 2002

How about "Market Arena"?  Better?

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Wednesday, December 25, 2002

I don't know what communists have to do with it.  I assume the word was co-opted from mathematics (e.g., "solution space").

And yes, I find it annoying, but not more than any of the other dumb jargon words (synergistic, paradigm, recontextualize, etc.)

J. D. Trollinger
Wednesday, December 25, 2002

I hear ya.  "Form factor" gets my vote for most obnoxious.

Nick Hebb
Wednesday, December 25, 2002

This is interesting...I've seen this topic brought up several times in the discussion-board space.

Jeff MacDonald
Thursday, December 26, 2002

Welcome to Joel-Space. ;-)

John Ridout
Thursday, December 26, 2002

You're just spaced out JWA

Stephen Jones
Thursday, December 26, 2002

The MBA books still say 'sector', but the MBAs, trendy as they are, all say 'space'. Probably a relic of producerism originally meaning 'shelf space'. Maybe not. Maybe I'm 'Spaced.

It's also used with reference to the net as being a place as opposed to a pipe, something the MBAs have yet to learn.

My fave is "meatspace".

fool for python
Thursday, December 26, 2002

My favorite example of annoying business-speak:

"Grow" as a transitive verb in the business context.

"We're doing a great job growing our business."

Thursday, December 26, 2002

This is a really good essay on the ridiculous language used by businesses:



[Consider] this from Ben and Jerry's mission statement:

"To make, distribute and sell the finest-quality all-natural ice cream and related products in a wide variety of innovative flavors made from Vermont dairy products."

Jeez, they flat out say they make ice cream... not "frozen confectionery consumables to enhance the global dessert and entertainment food lifestyle" or some other self-inflating codswallop.

The problem goes way beyond mission statements. Virtually every form of corporate communication—from customer support scripts and press releases to marketing brochures—is written in a stilted language intended to deliver the company message and to avoid risk.


Alex Chernavsky
Thursday, December 26, 2002

Consider the word "architect" which, first of all, has nothing to do with software, and is now used as a verb. Listen for it; it's spreading.

Real architects describe the analogous work as "design," as in "We're designing a new building," or, "We're working on schematic design." If one wishes to express some higher-level creative input to making a computer program, why not call the act "design?" It's a real word, and it even works as a verb.

"Architect" is not a verb. You are not an architect. Stop making up words to obfuscate your work. Don't hide your low self-esteem behind a weak vocabulary.

Steven E. Harris
Thursday, December 26, 2002

According to Strunk and White:


"Another segment of society that has constructed a language of its own is business. ... [The businessman] is speaking a language that is familiar to him and dear to him. Its portentous nouns and verbs invest ordinary events with high adventure; the executive walks among ink erasers caparisoned like a knight. This we should be tolerant of--every man of spirit wants to ride a white horse. ... A good many of the special words of business seem designed more to express the user's dreams than to express his precise meaning."


Alex Chernavsky
Thursday, December 26, 2002

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