Wednesday, April 23, 2008

BoSacks Speaks Out: The World's Newest Language

BoSacks Speaks Out: The World's Newest Language

I found this article to be interesting and humorous. It's about the morphing of our language. When you get right down to it our publishing language has changed right along with our technology. The words and acronyms that we use and throw around so freely today would be nothing but gibberish to people of our industry one generation ago. And that will most likely not change in the near future. Even our job descriptions and responsibilities are changing.

I was at one of my favorite industry gatherings a few weeks ago. It is called the Publishers Production Forum. This special group of production directors never fails to have some of the best and most pointed dialog anywhere to be found in our industry. The last meeting was no exception. From that meeting I heard the following exclaimed, "Prepress, it's 10% of the budget and 90% of the talk." That is funny and that is true. I will add an additional thought of my own. What do you still consider prepress? Is what goes onto the web with no parallel print component still considered prepress? If not, what is it? See what I mean, our language is changing.

Let me take that question for you publishers and production people one step further. Do you production people still consider your job as a manufacturing job? Is that what you really do? Do you still manufacture multiple widgets in the shape and form of magazines or are you more and more moving electrons from place to place, rather than hard atoms. Clearly ten years ago Directors of Manufacturing mostly moved "things". They used industrial strength manufacturing skills and technology to make things and ship them. What percentage of your job would you still define as making and shipping tangible "things"?

What will your job be called 10 years from now? Will you be DIM? Digital Infrastructure Management?

Will you still use ADIS and AdsML with DISC to coordinate GRACoL and ICE? Will we still have papiNet and PROSE/XML working to deliver intelligently with JDF and SNL?
Yep . . . languages sure do change. Right now I'm sort of reminiscing about hot lead and M spaces, galleys and paste-ups and the odd science of shipping boards to my printer.

"The most important things are the hardest to say, because words diminish them"
Stephen King quotes (American Writer, best known for his horror novels. b.1947)

The world's newest language: Nerdic
It's the language you learned talking to tech support
By Heidi Dawley

It's long been a goal of one-worlders to develop a universal language, and for years their hopes were on Esperanto, a faux language developed in 1887 by a Dr. L.L. Zamenhof to serve as the word's official second language. It's not caught on.

But Nerdic has, or soon will. So many already speak it, even if they do not recognize it as a language as such, and no matter that academics pooh-pooh the entire notion.

Indeed, new research claims Nerdic is the fastest-growing language in Europe, evolving even faster than English, a language that morphs and evolves and recreates itself daily.

Nerdic is tech speak. It's the language we've all been forced to learn in order to use our computers and survive on the internet.

The new research, from Pixmania, an electronics retailer in Europe, contends Nerdic has become the shared language of Europe, allowing people to communicate across borders, and as evidence it marches out the fact that the language added 100 new words last year. That's three times the number of new English words added into the Oxford English Dictionary.

"It should be its own language to make it proper," says Stuart Miles, editor of, a consumer technology site. He argues that technology has revolutionized the way people talk and that Nerdic is the outcome of that revolution. "When I was young, if you didn't understand a word and asked someone about it, a grownup would say, 'look it up in the dictionary.' Now you can't do that."

Miles helped Pixmania by putting together a list of hip and happening Nerdic words.

Take RickRoll, for instance. That's the verb used to describe one of the latest practical jokes circulating the web. It occurs when someone sends you a great sounding link but instead you are intentionally misdirected to a video of "Never Gonna Give You Up," by the 1980s one-hit wonder Rick Astley.

There's also egosurfing, another verb, and something that is highly embarrassing to be caught doing. It's the act of surfing the web to find - you guessed it - your very own name.

Miles also points to some super techy words. There's Wimax, the name for supersized Wi-Fi networks. And there's femtocell, the name for the mini, in-home mobile phone masts due to become popular in the next few years.

Pixmania says it has applied to Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office to have Nerdic recognized as an official language on the basis that it is spoken by 750,000 Europeans, to say nothing of all the others around the world.

Here the question logically rises. Is Pixmania really serious, or is this just a prank to grab headlines? The latter seems to be the case.

For one thing, the press office for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has yet to uncover anyone in their organization that has heard about this application.

Secondly, the chances of Nerdic succeeding in becoming a second language look slim. Pixmania may be having fun with the idea, but serious language people are not amused.

"Basically tech speak is just a variant of English," says David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at Britain's University of Bangor and the author of an upcoming book on texting called "Txtng: The Gr8 Db8."

He says that in order to make it a new language, you would need thousands and thousands of new words and, importantly, new grammar. "That's the critical thing." Crystal notes that Nerdic has none to speak of.

Colleen Cotter, lecturer in the linguistics department at Queen Mary, University of London, agrees, noting that, as fun and clever as it is, Nerdic really amounts to a lot of new words. It is more reminiscent of a pidgin form of a language.

In fact, Nerdic is going to have to work hard to live up to another language popular with techies, Klingon, the language of the Klingon people in the television series "Star Trek."

This language came complete with vocabulary and grammar. "Klingon is a real language. Nerdic is just a wannabe when you compare it with Klingon," says Cotter.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

MPA Retail Conference and Time Inc's Green Thinking.

BoSacks Speaks Out: Here is some news and thoughts about green publishing, paper consumption, and the consumer reaction. It is a worthwhile read and I have inserted a question to ponder at the end.

Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character. He must also regulate them adequately and not wonder whether someone else's traits might suit him better. The more definitely his own a man's character is, the better it fits him.
Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)

From the MPA Retail Conference Bill Mickey reported the following about Time Inc's thinking green.

Time Inc. has been monitoring its environmental impact to such a degree that it employs David Refkin as director of sustainable development. "Part of my job is risk management and promoting positive change and turning it into a business opportunity," he says, adding that the publisher buys 500,000 tons of paper from 53 mills per year.

As part of an operation-wide sustainability effort, Refkin says that the company has boosted its certified sustainable forestry paper content. Currently, 70 percent of its fiber meets CSF standards, up 25 percent from 2002. And paper is going increasingly global. "More and more of our wood will be coming from different countries," he says, noting that it's becoming important to work with countries to make sure they're following responsible foresting practices.

Bill Mickey also reported on the green thing that:

Consumer values--again, the intangibles--are increasingly including an awareness of a product's impact on the environment. In a panel discussion called "Consumers, Retail and the Environment," Steve French, managing partner of The Natural Marketing Institute, noted that "consumers are becoming much more eco-conscious. There's an alignment of personal values with companies and brands." And that, according to his research, one-third of Americans are willing to pay 20 percent more for environmentally-friendly products.

French pointed out that consumers are becoming more aware of, and interested in, the magazine production process, and warned publishers not to be surprised if consumers hold them "responsible" for ensuring unsold magazines are actually recycled. Indeed, Dave Sherman, partner at Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting, noted that despite the efforts of publishers to convert to recycled paper content, pushing unsold copies around the system essentially cancels that out.

I couldn't agree more. Although in my newsletter there has been some dispute of the actual percentages of unsold copies ending up in recycling centers, there is no dispute that on average we print 10 and sell 3. If we fix that part of the equation, then we don't have to worry as much about the recycling percentages. The eventual goal has to be no returns. It will take some time to get there, but there are at least some initiatives under way to bring us into at least thinking about those greater efficiencies.

Here is a legitimate question for my old friend David Refkin, out of the 500,000 tons of paper he buys each year, how much of that paper gets into the hands of the consumer?