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Technically Speaking

David Cartwright

Web 2.0; the millionth word in the dictionary

Article comments

Web 2.0 becomes the millionth word in the English dictionary

It was announced recently that "Web 2.0" had become the millionth word in the English dictionary. My immediate reaction was: "What a load of old b****cks".

Let's get this straight. Web 2.0 is a vague term, not a proper word. It's also one of the nastiest buzzwords of the early 21st century. True, it has an air of respectability; it is, after all, widely acknowledged to have come to prominence having been used at a 2004 conference by none other than Tim O'Reilly. But in real life, I'm dreading the moment when my CEO walks downstairs and asks: "Dave, do we support Web 2.0 yet?".

What really frustrates me, though, is that there were so many other candidates for the honour of being the millionth word. Some were just rubbish, of course, such as "Octomom" (the press storm caused by the recent birth of octuplets) or "Jai Ho!" (a Hindi term made famous by "Slumdog Millionaire", which is clearly destined to be short-lived in day-to-day use). But some were actually pretty good, such as "Carbon Neutral" (which I'm sure you've all come across) and "Zombie Bank" (a bank that would be insolvent but for government cash injections).

More frustrating still, though, was that some of the candidates were actually IT terms that are, in my humble opinion, way better than "Web 2.0". For example, I like "Greenwashing" - making a product environmentally friendly solely by the use of marketing puff - something we see all the time in networking.

But my favourite has to be the one that ended up as the 999,996th word in the dictionary: "Cloud Computing". It can be accurately defined (which, to me, is a precondition for a dictionary word), it's modern, and it's definitely not transient - it'll be with us for much longer than some trendy term from a here-today-forgotten-tomorrow movie.

But maybe I'm just a dictionary "noob". And if you're wondering, that was 999,998th.


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