Now back to our regularly unscheduled Riff column...
WE'RE LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD WORDS, HOW ABOUT YOU? -- Perhaps it's an occupational hazard for an industry perpetually in search of the new and improved, but Madison Avenue sure seems to churn out a lot of technical trade jargon. It's a vocational vocabulary that is as voracious as it is verbose, expanding with each new media platform it encounters, especially the Internet. New words, terms, acronyms and phrases seem to pop up daily to define each new communications channel, media experience or consumer phenomenon that advertisers, agencies and the media encounter.
And if that wasn't daunting enough, the new industrial lingo frequently alters the meaning of traditional terms, creating confusion and eroding the context of words that once had a precise meaning in the media business. The term "page," for example, means something different depending on whether you're referring to it online or in print. "Banners" once were big headlines gracing the front pages of newspapers. Now they're boxy little ads cluttering the home pages of Web sites.
If you think we're simply babbling over Babel, stop right here. Today's Riff is not for you. But if you are someone who cares about the terms of media art, then we can use your help. Or, maybe you can use ours. In any case, let's help each other. One of the not-so-new media terms we've been hearing a lot about lately is a wiki, which, according to a definition on Wikipedia, is:
"A type of Web site that allows the visitors themselves to easily add, remove, and otherwise edit and change some available content, sometimes without the need for registration. This ease of interaction and operation makes a wiki an effective tool for collaborative authoring."
The software can be used for all sorts of collaborations, but it is best known through online encyclopedias like Wikipedia, in which users are the experts, posting entries and challenging and editing them based on a community consensus. Wikipedia is great and it even includes a whole bunch of words and terms related to the advertising business, but it occurred to us that there is plenty of media jargon to go around, and not enough consensus on what some of it actually mean.
That got us thinking that the members of MediaPost might want one of their own. So we're going to begin hosting one on MediaPost.com. And since it might take some time to get the whole user-moderated thing going, we're going to give our little wiki a head start and launch it with an informal glossary of some words, terms and phrases we - and hopefully you - think are pretty relevant to our business. If you'd like, you can submit your own suggestions now by posting them here on the Riff blog, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Beginning soon, you'll be able to enter, challenge, edit, append, and debate them directly on the MediaPost Wiki, and we'll more or less step aside, linking to it periodically when we need to understand what stuff actually means to you.
So if you think you know the best, most current meaning of "reach" vs. "frequency," or if you simply know the difference between "recency" and "indecency," well, then, please let us know. And we'll let everyone else know.