Top Ten Abominations of Web Video Lingo

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.