Medieval gobbledegook, modern oxymorons

Miraz Jordan quotes Chaucer's heartfelt (and sarcastic) plea for plain language in The Clerk's Tale, which shows that tortuous talk is nothing new.

Webstock last week had plenty of plain speaking, which may surprise strike some as an oxymoron. It's a conference about technology, right? So we risk suffocating in jargon? Not so.

Bruce Sterling chopped up some favourite webby jargon and boiled it in oil. A platform on a web or a web as a platform? Granular addressability? Dynamic content? C'mon! Try to visualise these oxymorons and you'll quickly come to grief. Surfing on the glorious tsunami of Bruce Sterling's language were some mighty thoughts about now and never. It was quite a ride.

Jasmina Tesanovic showed us the power of the Web to save lives and tell an audience of millions what would otherwise remain secret. She was happily "writing novels about mermaids" in what became Serbia when war erupted in 1999. Immediately, she became "a blogger before the word was invented". With a smuggled computer she sent emails to friends about the war, from the heart of the war, and they were forwarded around the world. She wrote about atrocities that nobody wanted to acknowledge. She was the only writer to attend the trial of the Scorpios. She has a light and loving heart, but history happened to her. She feels morally obliged to continue writing about soul-wrenching experiences or who will remember?

She says, "The internet saved my life". Literally.

The Web is always much, much more than technology.

And so was Webstock 2009. But with more than 120 blogging about it at the time, plus plenty of tweets, I'll just savour the memory and redirect you to the Webstock web site.


Mar 06, 2009 • Posted by Webstock - what you said

[…] When Sterling attacks How to Improve the Web Medieval gobbledegook, modern oxymorons […]

Feb 27, 2009 • Posted by Brian (Shadowfoot)

The thing about using the web as a platform is one should think of spiders and it’s no longer an oxymoron. We use lots of things as platforms and many of these things do the job well.

Feb 28, 2009 • Posted by rachel

That satisfies my logical mind!

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