Innovation – yet another overused word

One of my pet peeves is the incorrect or misuse of phrases and words. I have written about how everyone has started overusing summit, awesome and crushing it. My good pal, Hunter Walk is keeping a rolling list of over-used tech words as well. This morning when I saw a blog post by Mozilla Chairperson Mitchell Baker, I was a tad annoyed by the causal use of the phrase innovation. Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client hasn’t been innovative for a long time so to say you are going to stop continued innovation is just nonsense. They have not been working on it for a long time.

It is not her. Today professional writers use the phrase “innovation” loosely, I feel we have no hope. The other day, I read a blog post about a company being called innovative after it copied a three-year-old feature.

It is not that hard to understand what innovation means. All you have to do is type “innovation” and go to Wikipedia and see that innovation can roughly be defined as “the creation of better or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society.”

Is Microsoft tech’s Sears?

“I see Microsoft as technology’s answer to Sears. In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, Sears had it nailed. It was top-notch, but now it’s just a barren wasteland. And that’s Microsoft. The company just isn’t cool anymore.”

Kurt Massey, a former senior marketing manager with Microsoft tells Vanity Fair

A different kind of staycation

Last week we wrapped up Structure 2012, our fifth annual Internet Infrastructure conference. It is difficult to explain how much work goes into putting together an event like Structure. I work with wonderful people who make it all look easy, but that doesn’t mean I get to take it easy. However, earlier this month I promised to myself that once Structure was over, I was going to take a little break.

Most people would take a break from their jobs and go for a vacation. I am taking a whole different kind of vacation. let’s call it an extreme staycation. Only that I will stay in San Francisco.

Summer is a terrible time to go somewhere. There are too many tourists everywhere. I personally find October and February two of the best months to get away. Anyway I like the weather in San Francisco Bay Area. It is warm and cold at the same time.

The sound of fog horn, great coffee, and walking alongside lapping waves – isn’t that what we do when on vacation. We don’t have any routine. We enjoy the vacation days by living at a languid pace, giving our bodies and minds to slowdown. So that is exactly what I am going to do.

For rest of the summer – well that is up until the first week of September, I am not going to make any plans. No appointments. No planned meetings. No planned trips. I want to wake up every morning and have no routine. Instead, I am going to let serendipity take control of my life. Why? Because I believe that a strict regimen sometimes comes in the way of creative thinking. I need to let my brain breathe and rejuvenate without worrying about deadlines or fretting over news.

Next few weeks are all about words – consuming & creating lots of words.

The Bold Italic

The Bold Italic is amazing! It combines all that is great about web and the real world and cooks up a perfect blend of a local/city magazine. They use infographics, photos, words, and real life events and blend them into a whole different kind of editorial brew that has more caffeine than a cup of espresso.

Not surprising since it involves the design firm IDEO and is the brainchild of Gannett’s innovation team. They started working on it in a long time ago. What I really like is how well they have blended commerce with this product and created a product that is made for post-Yelp/post-GroupOn world. If I had one quibble with the site – their world is, to put it mildly, lacks any diversity. Oh, they do use a lot of black-and-white photos.

Nevertheless, if you live in San Francisco, it should be on your list of sites to check out every day. Oh! they also print a magazine too.

What is Vans [Video]

It was never about waving around the brand like a flag, it was always about the people – Paul Van Doren, founder of Vans shoes.

3 phrases that have lost all meaning

Thanks to the amplification nature of the social web, there are some words that are essentially losing all meaning.

  1. Summit: There is a Cloud Summit, Mobile Summit, Home Decor Summit, Gamification Summit. Shit, I thought Summit was the peak of a mountain that was hard to climb and thus epitomized a very unique and special event.
  2. Crushing it: Some folks make ramen on their stoves and say they crushed it. What did you crush? Opening the noodle package? Or did you crush black peppers.
  3. Awesome: I see it used so often, that you would imagine this is a wonderful life and everything is perfect.

I think the nature of the social web is such that it demands attention. We are increasingly beholden to the click stream and as a result are not able to resist the hyperbole. I am pretty sure there are more words that will soon lose their meaning, impact and value.

P.S. Three years ago I was ranting about the use of fascinating, intriguing and interesting.