It’s not a “space”, it’s a “market”

Of all the current corporate buzzwords, “space” shits me the most. I’ve been meaning to write about it, but web pioneer Marc Andreessen got there first:

There is no such thing as a “space”.

There is such a thing as a market — that’s a group of people who will directly or indirectly pay money for something.

There is such a thing as a product — that’s an offering of a new kind of good or service that is brought to a market.

There is such a thing as a company — that’s an organized business entity that brings a product to a market.

Marc’s article goes on to explain why there’s no such thing as “Web 2.0” either — in fact that’s its main thrust. It’s worth reading.

Hell, his entire blog is worth reading.

On the other hand, William Shakespeare is worth reading too.

So are P J O’Rourke, Daniel Petre, George Orwell, David Marr, John Birmingham, James Burke, George Lakoff, Brian Eno, Lao Tsu, Sherry Turkle, Steven Levy, Neal Stephenson, Umberto Eco, Richard Watts, Paul Graham, Bruce Schneier, Father Bob Maguire, Matt Ridley, Daniel Dennett, Zern Liew, Steven Levitt… but you’ve just got to draw the line somewhere!

8 Replies to “It’s not a “space”, it’s a “market””

  1. look, get over it pal. so what if ppl want to use the word space instead of market. who cares?? why do u let trivial things like that bother you?

  2. @Fiona: I don’t think it’s trivial, actually. It bothers me for two reasons.

    1. Language is how we communicate our thoughts. Sloppy use of language usually implies there’s sloppy thinking behind it. Perhaps I’m more conscious of this because I’ve been a professional communicator for so long — it’s like watching someone take a fine car like a Ferrari and grinding the gearbox ‘cos they don’t know what they’re doing.
    2. Particularly in the corporate world, mindlessly parroting the latest management buzzword means the person using it is just branding themselves as a “me too” kinda person — well, that’s their problem, not mine, but I reckon people ought to be aware they’re doing it
  3. “Sloppy use of language usually implies there’s sloppy thinking behind it.”

    Mr Stilgherrian, it is merely a DIFFERENT use of language – not a sloppy one. Not everyone is going to use language in its purest form all the time. There’s nothing wrong with mixing & matching terms occasionally, it adds to the variety of things and can spice up communication. think of salespeople…

  4. @Fiona: I don’t subscribe to “purity” of language, and I doubt that any linguists would these days. Languages evolve constantly, and I agree there are certainly regional, social and even personal variations.

    However we’ll have to agree to disagree about this example, because I do believe this “space” thing is sloppy usage. The word “space” has many technical meanings as well as the everyday one, and the existence of those infuses the everyday with flavours of meaning which are important part of the communications process.

    This management-jargon usage of “space” pretty much ignores all that. It’s about trying to sound technical and precise when there isn’t actually any precision. Especially when it’s in a sentence with “around”, e.g. “We’re doing a lot of work around the security space.”

    In every case I’ve heard it used, it was to add a veneer of precision to a statement which was actually devoid of concrete detail.

    If a salesperson needs to “spice up” their communication by using inappropriate words for the sake of “variety”, then they’ve either got a crap product to sell or they’re a poor salesperson incapable of communicating the benefits of their product. Either is bad, I reckon.

  5. Instead of “space”, they should use “galaxy”. Similar theme, but the mental image of stars going around a super-massive black hole that sucks in things is actually quite appropriate when talking about consumers and products…

  6. Mr. Stilgherrian, If you are looking for a short easy read any time, I recommend Lapham rising. Seems to be in line with your type of humor. I’m sure you can find it at your local book ‘space’.


Comments are closed.