Do you speak 2009?

This is pretty informative, and pretty witty. I like writing that includes phrases like “so full of sociological meaning they hurt your eyes when you read them” and “all threaten to represent trends that are the very height of zeitgeist.” And most of these terms are new to me (naturally!) though some are things I know well enough. I like “enoughism,” particularly.


IoS, BTW, means Independent on Sunday.

Do you speak 2009? The IoS Buzzword Glossary

Sunday, 4 January 2009

The New Year was so young it was barely on solids when the words reached us. And they were not just any old words. These were buzzwords – words so trendy they squeaked; expressions so full of sociological meaning they hurt your eyes when you read them: micro-boredom, digital diet, energy dashboards, negawatts, geo-fencing, GRIN Tech, instapreneur, and many more.

They were in a chart produced by Future Exploration Network, trend-spotters to American cutting edgistas (our own feeble attempt at buzz-word coinage). A few were faintly familiar; most were new; all threaten to represent trends that are the very height of zeitgeist. Intrigued, we went in search of more upcoming words and phrases. The result is this, the IoS 2009 Buzzword Glossary.


Co-rumination: Excessive chattering about problems, real and imagined. Leads to the amplification of real anxieties, and creation of new ones. Has increased markedly in recent years, as email, messaging, texting, and Facebook have given the self-obsessed a multitude of outlets.

Junior moment: Flip-side of a senior moment. Can be committed by adults, with a sudden lapse into immaturity; or by youth, displaying the lack of thoughtfulness, sense or self-preservation we oldies associate with them.

Extended financial families: Several generations of the same family living in one home. Love and devotion might be the glue that keeps them together, but it’s more likely to be the need for care or child minding, with the added benefit of cash savings.

Micro-boredom: What we used to call downtime, now increasingly filled by fiddling with mobiles or BlackBerrys. Those who market these devices, or the services they use, see it as an opportunity to sell us something. Potential victims of this can be recognised by their adoption of the:

BlackBerry prayer: The hunched-over, self-absorbed pose adopted by those fingering their Blackberry, or texting on their mobile. Often accompanied by facial expressions to match tenor of the message being sent.

Digi-necker: Driver who, when passing a road accident, whips out their mobile and takes a picture.


Nano-solar: Sunshine absorbers that don’t need expensive, silicon-using panels, but use a thin film of solar cells that can be applied to any inorganic surface – windows, roof tiles, even metal. The predicted effect is that the cost of solar power will be reduced to a third of the cost of coal.

Energy dashboards: Control panels that monitor performance of your heat, light, and power use, in the same way a conventional one does for your car. Will be net-enabled so you can see what energy you’re using, and at what cost, and come into their own when you have full device convergence, and you can talk to your appliances, and they can ‘talk’ back to you, and to the power source.

Negawatts: Latest word for energy efficiency, coined by the public utility commission of California. Greenies also use the term fifth fuel.

Edible estates: Phrase coined by US campaigner Fritz Haeg for digging up your lawn and growing in its place something you can eat. After all, we did it in the war, when the Dig For Victory campaign increased the land used for food production by 80 per cent. For examples, see any traditional cottage garden, or back yards in Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany – where grass is for sport or ruminants, not something to be made a fetish of.

Eco-embedded: The idea that business and government adopts eco-friendly practices that leave the consumer no choice. A ban on plastic shopping bags, for instance, or other plastic-free zones (such as a shopping centre in Balgowlah, New South Wales), carbon emission laws, or ‘green’ credit cards where consumers pay a little extra to offset the carbon cost of their purchase.


Geo-fencing: What you do when, via a GPS system or mobile phone, you set a physical boundary to where someone can roam. If they exceed it, you get a warning. Used by delivery companies to be notified when drivers stray off designated routes (which sounds Big Brotherish, but could also alert a firm to a hijack). There are also geo-fencing services that can track your child’s mobile, sending you a message if they deviate from their usual haunts.

Cloud computing: Use of the huge capacity of corporate computers by individuals or small businesses. Corporates have sophisticated software, and you have broadband that lets you connect with this computer ‘cloud’ floating above you. In other words, software will not be something you buy, but rent and access.

Telepresence: Fancy word for video conferencing. A few firms now have special rooms where life-sized images of off-site participants allow a meeting that satisfies every sense except that of touch. Not to be confused with teleporting, which only happens in sci-fi movies.

GRIN Tech: Genetic, Robotic, Information and Nano Technology. Mostly it means those breakthroughs which have yet to find a practical, cost-effective application. But, we’re told, they’re coming. Er, probably.


Austerity 2.0: What we’re all about to experience in 2009, if those dubious think-tank predictions come to pass.

Flexenomics: Our word for the economy growing up to support the need, in times of far greater uncertainty, for people to keep their spending and consuming flexible. More of us will rent homes, white goods, TVs and entertainment systems, or lease cars. It also covers contract working, and reduction of all but essential financial commitments – which will help relieve that already established condition: debt stress.

Brickor mortis: Property market where few homes are being sold.

Upcycling: Recycling disposes of things that might (repeat, might) be reconstituted rather than left to rot; upcycling gives objects a new use. Its American advocates cite an example of chair cushions made out of old ties, which doesn’t bode well. For examples of less frightening upcycling, visit The concept is popular with Imbys, who favour anything local, until, of course, it threatens their space and privacy, whereupon they become the far more familiar Nimbys.

Staycation: A vacation without the travelling. Or the expense. Or the tan.

Enoughism: The creed that holds that we over-consume, amass far too much “stuff” that only ever provides a fleeting pleasure, and ought to cry “Enough!”. Experts like John Naish and Oliver James argue this incessant acquisitiveness leads to dissatisfaction that can develop into mental illness. Been around for a while, but fast gaining currency.

Unplugging: Technological wing of the above, where someone realises that the time they spend online, on the mobile, curating the Facebook page, etc, is no substitute for living. So they put themselves on a digital diet, and possibly even cultivate an interest in things without keypads. Like other people. What we all need, probably, are more islands of tranquillity, or thinking time, as it used to be known.


Instapreneur: Instant entrepreneurship, via online shops and selling services, allow anyone with something to sell – even a design or idea – to go into business right now. The online service takes a rake-off, but the instapreneur does not even have to invest the financial, or time, cost of making or buying stock. Via, you can even submit a book manuscript to and start taking orders almost immediately. There are also sites for T-shirt designers (, and much more.

Crowdfunding: Financing of ventures or projects by a number of individuals brought together, usually via the net. Disaster relief funds are a form of crowdfunding, and this old concept is now being used in new ways, especially in the US. Examples include ArtistShare, where musicians can raise cash via online micropayments (four years ago Maria Schneider became the first ArtistShare beneficiary to win a Grammy); BeerBankroll, a brewer managed by its online community (membership as low as $50); and, which allows people to submit a need or wish, with participants then voting which ones get the donated cash.

Pinkwashing: The dark art favoured by certain companies (you know who you are) of using ostentatious support for breast cancer research to promote your products or services.

Perkonomics: Small add-on benefits offered to you by firms to get or retain your business. Examples include fast-track guarantees for theme parks or car hire, and mobile network Orange giving users access to concert tickets 48 hours before they go on general sale.

And finally…

If buzzwords enrage you, then write a book about it. You will thus contribute to the rising tide of books about things that make the author angry, known, of course, as Wrath Lit. There is, it seems, a buzzword for everything.

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