New headnote: I’m reverting most of the other changes because the post gets too confusing. I’ll add my caveats at the end. However, it is now clear, thanks to this excellent comment from Phil Bradley, that I misinterpreted the situation based on sketchy reporting. I’m restoring the original post so that the comment stream makes sense [End of new headnote]:
It seems that a big-name speaker in a big-name conference settled the issue of whether terminology matters, at least within one current movement/set of tools/hypefest/truly good idea set, by displaying a slide containing the Answer:”I don’t care.”
Presumably implying that nobody else should either. Where I’ve seen this noted in reports, it’s with considerable enthusiasm.
It strikes me that sophisticated argumentation at this level deserves appropriate response. To wit, those who think that language doesn’t matter are, to some extent, telling us that their words don’t matter. So an appropriate response to their posts, articles, whatever, might well be
“I don’t care.”
Or is it only language that they disagree with that should be dismissed in such a manner?
Actually, I’m charmed by librarians arguing that language and wording don’t matter. It sets such an interesting tone for the future.
OK, that’s the original post. I did not name the speaker, deliberately…in part because I saw this as another example of what I’d seen much earlier from another source (see the comments for links), and thought it was possible that I was misinterpreting the speaker. It is now clear that this was the case. It’s also clear that the misinterpretation was based in part on the reporting of the session, specifically this commentary:
â€œMy favorite slide was Phil Bradleyâ€™s, in response to all the discussion about semantics and buzzwords. It simply said:
â€œI donâ€™t careâ€
[The link is in the comments.] Note “in response to all the discussion about semantics and buzzwords.” Note the lack of “After a slide saying â€˜So what do I think?â€™ and a commentary that made it clear that both sides had merit.” At that point, as Bradley says, the slide wasn’t intended as argument; it was a personal comment. And entirely appropriate as such. I probably would have laughed too.
Note that I did not name Phil Bradley, deliberately. It was a blind item because I was noting a problem I’ve seen more than once. This did not happen to be an instance of the problem.
As for the courtesy of always asking someone before commenting on anything they’ve said in public, or that has been reported that they’ve said, or before interpreting what someone says…well, that’s an interesting idea. It’s certainly not a courtesy I’ve been provided. In fact, I’ve seen deliberate rewordings of what I said. For example, the post above does not say “someone at some conference in some speech attempted to preclude discussion of the language/term.” Nor did I “deny the man a slide with his personal opinion”–where above do I say “The speaker should not have been allowed to put up that slide”? Those are both deliberate misstatements, not just misinterpretations.
To sum up: I misinterpreted what went on at the conference based on (a) selective reporting and (b) my own long experience with the person who’d done the selective reporting. It was a reasoned comment that happened to be wrong. I did not mention the speaker by name because it was used as an example (and because I knew I might be wrong). I wrote a short and angry post because I’m tired of the real instances (which this wasn’t) of argument-by-trivialization.
Again, my genuine apologies to Phil Bradley–not for failing to contact him, but for misunderstanding the sketchy report. And my genuine thanks for his clear, calm, lucid commentary. Next time I see reporting on his speeches that seems askew, I will check first.