Bruce Sterling: We need a new word for Neologisms

October 31, 2006

A neologism is a word, term, or phrase which has been recently created (“coined”) — often to apply to new concepts, or to reshape older terms in newer language form. Neologisms are especially useful in identifying inventions, new phenomena, or old ideas which have taken on a new cultural context. The term e-mail, as used today, would be an example of a neologism.

Bruce Sterling (author, journalist, editor, critic) gave a very short, tight presentation on neologisms and this “semantic battlefield” where no one has any idea what they are really talking about. (I suppose that is the perennial challenge with new things – everyone is just muddling about).

My main takeaway was his story about at engineering professor who split his students into 2 groups: the John Henrys, who had to do all their research in the library and the Baby Hueys who had to do all their research on the net, using amongst other things “bizarre blogger blither”. In the end, “the Baby Hueys were wiping the floor with the John Henrys”

Now, I graduated in 2002 and as much as I hate to use the phrase, “in my time”, then no one had ever heard of using blogs and wikipedia as bonafide sources of research information.


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