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Since when do you “socialize” things?

August 14, 2008

Social software is changing our language. I’m well familiar with the notion of socializing people; OS X’s dictionary defines socialize as “make (someone) behave in a way that is acceptable to their society”.  But I’ve never heard it used in the context of software before last week.  And then I suddenly heard it multiple times within a single meeting:  “Oh, we need to socialize the software”, as though doing so involved sprinkling some magic socializing powder over the software to make it support social interactions.  I realize that technology does have an impact on our language (often an unfortunate one; e.g., it drives my wife nuts that people use “calendar” as a verb).  But really, socializing software?  Too bad the usage doesn’t logically extend my Mac’s definition.  It’d be nice to have software that behaved in a way acceptable to our society.

From → Musings

4 Comments
  1. Susan permalink

    Ugh, the last team I was with at my previous job used this word ALL the time. I’d never heard it before and it was just weird. I’ve occasionally said it as a joke but I worry that a joke becomes a habit and then before you know it, I’m one of those people. Snort.

  2. Susan permalink

    although actually, the way they used it was more about taking an idea to people and convincing them to support the idea. “We have to socialize that to upper management”.

    So maybe this idiot verb has not only risen up out of nowhere, but it even has multiple meanings. The mind reels.

  3. drjpierce permalink

    I think we should make it socially acceptable (socialize? 😉 to head off such word appropriation by blurting out “but that doesn’t MEAN anything!” to the offender.

  4. Susan permalink

    Or, just start using “socialize” as your go-to verb from now on. Like “smurf”.

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