You have arrived at the web home of Noah Brier. This is mostly an archive of over a decade of blogging and other writing. You can read more about me or get in touch. If you want more recent writing of mine, most of that is at my BrXnd marketing x AI newsletter and Why Is This Interesting?, a daily email for the intellectually omnivorous.

June, 2006

Theory Objects

You know those things you read and think are interesting, but kind of throw on the back burner? Then like two months later you find yourself yourself quoting it constantly and have to pull it out again and read it? I've had one of those moments with an article from Smart Mobs called "It's about spime". The essence of it is that with the way Google works communities can develop around words. Because of that, it can be very helpful to use a completely new term to describe new ideas, allowing you to use Google as your social networking tool. Bruce Sterling describes the process as it relates to 'spimes':

A neologism, a completely made-up word like 'spime,' is a verbal framing device. It's an attention pointer. I call them "spimes," not because I necessarily expect that coinage to stick, but because I need a single-syllable noun to call attention to the shocking prospect of things that are plannable, trackable, findable, recyclable, uniquely identified and that generate histories.

I also wanted the word to be Google-able. If you Google the word 'spime,' you find a small company called Spime, and a song by a rock star, but most of the online commentary about spimes necessarily centers around this new idea, because it's a new word and also a new tag. It's turning into what Julian Bleecker calls a 'Theory Object,' which is an idea which is not just a mental idea or a word, but a cloud of associated commentary and data, that can be passed around from mouse to mouse, and linked-to. Every time I go to an event like this, the word "spime" grows as a Theory Object. A Theory Object is a concept that's accreting attention, and generating visible, searchable, rankable, trackable trails of attention.

I'm not really sure what else I have to say about this, just wanted to share the quote . . . you can continue on with your regularly scheduled activities.

June 21, 2006
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.