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Top Ten Abominations of Web Video Lingo

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I admit, I’d probably be one of the biggest infringers if there were actual penalties for overusing buzzwords. I do love a good neologism, and frankly, how else to describe what’s going on when it was all new? Well, now it’s not so new anymore, but we’re stuck with the old slang.

I don’t care if they’re what all the VCs are talking about — there’s a reason VCs don’t often transition into careers as English professors (besides, of course, the massive cut in pay). Here are the ten buzzwords, acronyms or phrases on my “increasingly annoying” list and some tentative suggestions for replacements.

10. Vlog: I hate to say it, because I use it all the time, but “blog” had its problems and the change to “v” just multiplies the ugly by five. The fact that every attempt to define it results in fisticuffs doesn’t lend it any affection, either. “Video blog” and “video podcasting” aren’t exactly mellifluous. How about “filmmaking” and “filmmakers?” Qualify it as “online” if you absolutely have to.

9. Consumer-Generated Advertising (CGA): Now you know this one first appeared at some marketing conference in the bowels of Public Relationsville USA. They’re spec advertising contests, and the filmmakers are entrants. Treat them as such, and maybe they’ll get a little more respect.

8. Old media: Motion pictures didn’t exist two hundred years ago, televisions one hundred, the Internet fifty. The written word is thousands of years old, the visual arts tens of thousands, and the oral tradition hundreds of thousands. This is just a new distribution model — it’s all media.

7. Prosumer: This one’s irked me since the dawn of digital video. It doesn’t just define a price point, it defines a state of mind. Man. Seriously though, don’t dwell on the tools, dwell on learning how to use them. They are called cameras, and there are relatively inexpensive ones that can do amazing things in the right hands.

6. User-Generated Content (UGC): The bastard father of the bastard son CGA. You’d think people would give an audience creating material for free and then uploading it (under terms of service that would make the average agent run into the Hollywood Hills, burning or not) a little more credit. But no. They’re users! And they’re generating content! Please refer to number ten, call them filmmakers, and maybe they’ll start acting like it.

5. Streaming: Once, this defined a very specific method by which to guarantee the reliable delivery of packets in real time over the Internet. But now the line between ‘streaming,’ ‘progressive downloads’ and ‘downloads’ is all screwed up (and the various licensing terms and DRM further muddle it, since ‘download’ once meant ‘own’). You can keep using it, but please be specific — and this includes you, survey question writers.

4. YouTube: You do not Tube anything. For the love of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, don’t ever use YouTube as a verb. And it’s been months since I’ve written “YouTube-like,” but I still see it in all the papers. There are video sharing and publishing services, and there’s YouTube. Which is a proper noun referring to a specific company and location on the World Wide Web.

3. Aggregators: Watch out for the “gator” in “aggregator” — he’ll eat the perpetual, non-exclusive rights to your content! Seriously, though, there are people who “program” content, making honest to goodness meatware editorial decisions, and then there are sites which arbitrarily determine potentially related content through algorithms of varying complexity. The latter are aggregators or whatever, the former are an invaluable community service.

2. Piracy: It’s far too awesomely swashbuckling a name to give to an altogether mundane activity — using digital network technology to send and receive data, as though digital network technology was built to do just that. Oh, you’re in the restricting-access-to-data business? Good luck with that. You can’t keelhaul us all, guvnor! Arrrr.

1. Viral: While I admit, dance clips are often totally infectious, that doesn’t make them viruses or give them any viral qualities. When something freely available becomes popular because lots of people are sharing it online, it’s probably because it’s compelling, timely and has a great gimmick (or ironic value). Any nudging of that along is called “promotion.” Embrace it, own it and be honest about it.

Yes, you’ll probably catch me using one or more of these in the future, and yes, you should totally leave your own in the comments.

11 Responses to “Top Ten Abominations of Web Video Lingo”

  1. Adam Jacot de Boinod

    Dear Jackson

    I wondered if you might like a link to both my Foreign word site and my English word website or press release details of my ensuing book with Penguin Press on amusing and interesting English vocabulary?

    with best wishes

    Adam Jacot de Boinod

    (author of The Meaning of Tingo)


    [email protected]

    or wish to include:

    When photographers attempt to bring out our smiling faces by asking us
    to “Say Cheese”, many countries appear to follow suit with English
    equivalents. In Spanish however they say patata (potato), in Argentinian Spanish whisky, in French steak frites, in Serbia ptica (bird) and in
    Danish appelsin (orange). Do you know of any other varieties from around the world’s languages? See more on


    The Wonder of Whiffling is a tour of English around the globe (with fine
    coinages from our English-speaking cousins across the pond, Down Under
    and elsewhere).
    Discover all sorts of words you’ve always wished existed but never knew,
    such as fornale, to spend one’s money before it has been earned; cagg, a solemn vow or resolution not to get drunk for a certain time; and
    petrichor, the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a
    dry spell.
    Delving passionately into the English language, I also discover why it
    is you wouldn’t want to have dinner with a vice admiral of the narrow
    seas, why Jacobites toasted the little gentleman in black velvet, and
    why a Nottingham Goodnight is better than one from anywhere else. See
    more on

    with best wishes


  2. 6 is a big complaint I have had with lingo. We actually built making sure the viewers knew the difference between Streaming and Progressive Download and can switch at anytime.

  3. Can we add vodcast and vidiette? Why does everything have to have a special term? So some guy can claim he invented it I guess.

    We have a joke around my office about our podcast episodes to mock this stuff. We jokingly call our videos “videodisodettes”.

  4. Man, Jackson, you covered ’em all. What to do? Live with these horrid terms or jab pencils into our eyes?

    I say, let’s crowd source for an answer. Wiki it. Leverage the community. Do a viral campaign.

    I kid.

    But seriously, we’re only annoyed by these terms because we work with them every day. But worse, we have to explain them to nOObs almost every single time we answer the question “What do you do?”

  5. Oh gawd yes.

    If I hear one more person at a conference say User Generated Content or Viral Video, I might take a pencil to my eye.

    Well, not really. If I did, I would definitely YouTube it. ;)