Marketroid Oppression and the Word Triage Game

Here’s a fantastic little paddle game from BoingBoing which involves knocking words out of an HP vice president’s press release about a product upgrade. You can see the original quote and the result of a couple of minutes’ bashing below. The insight for me was that I have always thought marketing-speak like this to be meaningless. This game however clearly demonstrates that meaninglessness isn’t quite the right way to look at it, because the peculiar character of this communication survives the elimination of over two thirds of the words. It still has an identity. You can still tell what’s going on.

Meaninglessness proper arrives only when you’ve knocked out all the nouns, verbs and adjectives. Now they say that you can survive the loss of two thirds of your brain as well… although specific brain locations do perform specialised functions, the brain also works as a distributed system so can adapt to loss of brain matter. So there is clearly some form of intelligence at work here – though I’m not sure whether it’s a property of the producer or an emergent intelligence just produced by certain words happening to find themselves in close collocation, a bit like slime mould colonies. What we do know, however, is that marketese, like the brain, fails gracefully. Try it yourself, and let’s wait for the second version of the game where you can insert the quotes of your choice and test them for word-loss resilience. Thanks to David Weinberger for this.



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