Language Evolves, But Some People Are just Sloppy With It

A lot of offers drop into my email inbox. Sometimes companies are trying to sell me stuff. Quite often they want me to join in on their free “webinar!” I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate the word “webinar.” It’s an abomination.

Over the years I’ve used Citrix GotoMeeting quite a lot. It’s a bit scary to think of how long I’ve paid them their monthly pound of flesh, but the service has truly changed my life. It allows me to perform remote support and maintenance processes without physically travelling to the customer site. When Citrix later offered GotoManage, a service more optimized around remote admin functions, my employer adopted it company-wide.

So, you see, I’m open to the use of such services…but I despise the way the language is warping around their use. “Webinars” don’t typically happen on the web. They happen online. You may access a web site into order to get into the session, but they don’t actually occur on the web. If they occurred on the web there’d be no installable applet involved. It would all happen inside the web browser with no plug-in required. It would all happen over HTTP.

I accept that some might argue this point. However, this morning I received an invitation to an Information Week Webcast that contained an even more atrocious use of language. They offer an “8 GB USB” as incentive to attract participants. Exactly what is an “8 GB USB?”

Webinar invite


Of course, what they mean is an “8 GB USB memory stick.” There’s an object to that offer. As far as I know a sentence still requires an object…unless you’re my wife, in which case you’re absolutely right, dear.

I expect better from a publication like Information Week. You should, too.

At least in using the term “Webcast” they acknowledge that it’s going to be a one-way conversation. You’ll get their pitch, but they won’t hear you.

I hope that HP is more exacting with the design of their Gen8 servers than they are with the language of their marketing effort.