Millionth Word is a PR Stunt

Not literally. The millionth word was “Web 2.0” at least according to the Global Language Monitor, I don’t believe it (and I’m ignoring the debate on whether it’s really a word, or what methodology should be used to count it). It’s not possible that Web 2.0 took longer to reach the qualifying threshold than octomom and chengguan.

“As expected, English crossed the 1,000,000 word threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 am GMT” according to the Global Language Monitor. The GLM monitors the use of words in English and to qualifies new words as having been used at least 25,000 times, with a depth of uses and a wide geographic spread.

Early this morning there were 15 finalists listed, some hijacked from other langauges some drawn from the online world. I was secretly hoping “noob” meaning a new person in the gaming world, would cross the line as the millionth word. But no such luck.

  • The 999,999th word was Jai Ho!
  • The 1,000,000th word was Web 2.0
  • The 1,000,001th word was Financial Tsunami

It’s odd, I was really surprised that Jai Ho and Financial Tsunami come in at the same time as Web 2.0 which has been around somewhat longer and pops up far more frequently in my world. So I checked google and now I beleive the results even less.

“Web 2.0” has 60 million more hits than the nearest competitor “slumdog” a term that was popularised by the movie Slumdog Millionaire. After some searching I can’t find a use of the term that predates the movie, indeed there are few uses of the term not in connection to the movie.

“Web 2.0” has 80,000% more hits than the 1,000,001 word “financial tsunami” which dates back to at least 2005,  but seems to appear only in business literature.

In contrast the term Web 2.0 was coined in 1999, and is widespread in business, technical and general writings globally. It’s completely impossible that 60 million entries of the term did not qualify. Particularly as the entries for noob and slumdog are genre specific and I suspect the term octomom has a fairly narrow geographic use. It’s nonsense.

I think this is a PR stunt, and Global Language Monitor (and lets face it, who’d heard of them before?) decided that Web 2.0 would generate lots of publicity and so chose it at as their millionth word and worked the PR.

The Cult of the Amateur

Or “The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today’s user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture, and our values” to give it its full title, by Andrew Keen.

As you might expect from the title Andrew Keen is against user-generated content and social media. For him truth should be in the hands of the experts, and reporting is in the hands of journalists. He sees the demise of traditional media, particularly print media and laments its passing.

It’s an anti Web 2.0 rant. He makes a valid point regarding the credibility of bloggers vs news journalists, but ignores that journalists have also been guilty of faking stories and other, unethical behaviour. But beyond that the view is so biased and so limited that it becomes annoying rather than enlightening. There are a number of pencil notations in my copy, next to contradictions in his argument. For example one big complaint is the lack of accountability on the web, yet Reed College also comes under fire for denying admission to a student who had published rude comments about the school.

I agree that there are issues to be solved that most Web 2.0 evangelists ignore, such as the issues of privacy vs anonymity, censorship (necessary to protect children) and intellectual property. But I am more optimistic than Mr. Keen.