Wordlings in a Web 2.0 World

“Public language has become impoverished by ‘managerialism’ which frequently reduces language to strings of ‘weasel’ words, a phenomenon blamed on the information society. This process is not as ubiquitous or as inevitable as often represented, however. Drawing on Burke’s notion of human beings as ‘wordlings’, I argue for the centrality of well–crafted words, especially on the Internet, and offer examples of language crafted with care and passion, leading to distilled and vivid expression. I use the term ‘word bytes’ for such language, as it can cut through the multiple items of information from many other media with which it is surrounded, and demand to be noticed and remembered. I conclude we do not have to accept the impoverished form of ‘managerial’ English, often produced by elites and used to justify the ‘financialization’ of the late capitalist world. We can begin to counter it by our own practices of using words with care and passion, and by disseminating our words. We can also stop and question ‘weasel’ language wherever we encounter it.” – (Carolyne Lee – First Monday 14.2)

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