Some Questions Worth Asking

When I hear the following words or phrases I now have to stop and think about what is really being said since these words and phrases have been so heavily diluted and co-opted that their positive connotations can no longer be assumed:

Is a given innovation socially beneficial? I.e., does it improve the lots of any, many, or just a few? Innovation, it turns out, is a vector. It has both magnitude and direction, and that direction can be negative.
“Social Change”
What sort of change? Change is often good. Also, bad. Look closely.
“Open API”
The word “open” is so loaded that when combined with “API”, it’s nearly a sociopolitical phenomena of its own right. If you think of nothing else when you hear this phrase, think privacy in public. Who owns what happens on the other side of the API?

What am I missing?


  1. Posted March 30, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    “Technology”, especially as applied to software. Usually it means “very simple algorithm that we wish to keep secret, possibly with some cruft around the edges to make it hard to understand.”

  2. Posted March 30, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Hrm, “Technology” isn’t quite as highly associated in my mind with externalized costs; i.e., someone trying to screw you.

    It strikes me that I forgot “Corporate Social Responsibility” and “Consumer Choice”. Folks who use those phrases without either defining or couching them are more likely than not trying to screw somebody.

  3. Posted March 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Intellectual Property

    As if the centuries-old concept of “property” can really apply to something that can be duplicated and near-zero cost. Would we still be fighting foreign wars if that “property” could be duplicated by pressing a button?