Fourth of July Duds
When is it OK to Lie?

Don't Name That Trend... Be The Trend!

I've seen three different "Blegs" from people casting about for a new name for three different big picture phenomena.


(As they taught me in my magazine writing class back in the day, three makes a trend!)

One is looking for a name for the movement toward more technology and openness in government. This is a topic I'm endlessly fascinated with, but I don't think it will ever have a name because this is just the march of history.

A second is looking for a name for the flow of status updates that come in through Twitter, Facebook, and all the rest. This one may get a name, but I'm not sure what it will be. All the ones suggested, even by me, pretty much stink. 

I think this is becoming a real issue. People are really grappling with how to deal with this stream. It took a long time for people to deal with e-mail, and now people just don't know how to deal with a flow of blogs, status updates, tweets and all of it.

It helps me to think of that stream as my "published lifestream." My private stream is, of course, email and phone calls, but my published stream is the collection of published status reports that I want to read, and then there is the stream of what I publish both here on this blog, on my twitter account and my Facebook page.

In my mind the solution uses RSS, which right now works just the way I want it to work for blogs, but doesn't work for the others and even though the difference between a Facebook status update and a blog entry is one that is very difficult to explain because they are essentially the same thing at heart.

There are no good solutions for ways to deal with that stream. Even turning tweets into an RSS feed just doesn't work yet. There's much more to say on this, but I'll save it so I don't get too far off topic.

The third (and therefore trend-making) trend looking for a name is the hunt for a name for the Denver-Boulder high-tech scene. This one absolutely positively will fail, and here's why: The Silicon Valley needed a name because it didn't really have any name before. It was, and is, really, the suburbs of Oakland, which is the original place where there was no there there. The Silicon Valley is the outskirts of the place with nothing there. 

There's absolutely nothing interesting about the Silicon Valley outside of the fact that a whole bunch of revolutionary high-tech companies have done very well there. It's amazing for that one aspect, and completely free of any other attributes that make for an interesting society.

Denver is an actual place. There IS a there there. Same goes for Boulder. Coming up with a name for one aspect of a place that is interesting on it's own won't work because people are already familiar with Denver and Colorado, and do not need a new moniker to help understand it. 

And, by the way, having a name for one aspect of the economy here also won't do anything to make it super-dooper-fabulous, as I have a hunch some of the boosters are hoping.

All three attempts at naming, however, I think come from something of a Baby Boomer mindset. It's important for people who were part of "The Summer of Love" or "Watergate" or "Getting Fat and Lazy and Moving to the Suburbs" to name things to show to the world how different they are, how much they really are "Changing the World, Man."

As Jeff Gordinier points out in his excellent: X Saves the World, it's Boomers that really want to label how they are changing the world. It's the Gen-X crowd that first of all eschews the Gen-X label, and then eschews any other labels before going out and actually changing the world.

I don't know if you noticed, but the people behind the aforementioned revolutionary changes in governing and in publishing of status details are not the ones trying to put a name on it. They are too busy doing what they do.

Good for them! Long live the Name-Free Trend!