Friday, March 13, 2009


I am not that bothered by acronyms that I don't know, but in the case of SXSW going to the website does one precious little good. Is the message that if you don't know what it is, you are by definition to uncool to be allowed to know (in this case "South by Southwest" an Texas arts festival).

At would point do acronyms stop being time savers for insiders and start being passwords and shibboleths that function more as fences than as gates? At what point can you reasonably expect people to "get" EC, SP and TWRP? Does every potential reader of MM, BDSM or PWP have the faintest idea what any of these mean?

Does this letter salad in our online dialect indicate the existence of a community or a culture? And if so is it a culture that embraces the entire readership or only the section that lurks and engages, or spends a lot of time at urbandictionary? Do we become to used to talking to our author peers, and like the reverse of the scientist pontificating polysylabbically to the uncomprehending masses, forget how to express ourselves to normal readers?

Because typing things out in full may make a less pithy posts, but perhaps one that will make sense to a hell of a lot more people?

[Picture credit: Shibboleth at the Tate Modern]


Anonymous said...

FWIW(sorry, couldn't resist), the "truly hip" refer to SXSW as "South by"......

the rest of us laugh and stay home for the weekend. (There is also an alternate series staged at the same time called "South by So-What")

Laura, who loves living in Austin most of the time.

Angela James said...

For the purpose of Twitter, which is where I've seen it used, the acronym is essential as a hashtag, because hashtags needs to be 1) easy to type and 2) take as little space as possible so there's more room to comment.

Hashtags are really useful on Twitter, so in that case, I think the acronym serves its purpose.

veinglory said...

On twiiter I can understand--but on the events own website there was only the acronym, not even one mention of the full name!