Friday, May 17, 2013

The meaning of words

spa1Why is it that…

“Spa” has evolved from it’s Roman (later German) association with baths and massage to an Eastern focus on stones and oils?

When I look into a spa at hotels and resorts, there is bamboo in place of marble, calligraphy instead of statuary.  Only the restful silence and towels remain.

Backed by oboes, wind chimes, and eucalyptus.

conqistadorA British or Dutch invasion and displacement of indigenous peoples is called a “colonization” while a similar Spanish or Portuguese event is called a “conquest”.

There’s a similar twist of language in Chinese views of history, reciprocal with European accounts.  The Economist recently wrote

“The National Museum’s “Road to Revival” exhibit is a propaganda romp through China’s history since the mid-19th century. Its aim is to show China’s suffering at the hands of colonial powers in the “century of humiliation” and its eventual glorious recovery under party rule. (The millions of deaths from starvation and political strife under Mao, and the bloody crushing of anti-government unrest under Deng, go unremarked.) “

analyst“Analysts” are, increasingly, being replaced by “Commentators”.  I rely on my primary News sources to give  in-depth, verified facts about people and events.  But time gives perspective and I look to weekly summaries, both magazines and podcasts, to put these fact into context and perspective.  A news analyst used to have that long view, understanding the history and the personalities  and able to say “why”,  not just “how”, something is happening, and chat it means for the future.

I listen to several tech podcast networks, TWIT and 5By5, to understand trends in devices, applications, business and social media.  During a discussion of journalistic perspectives on In Beta, Gina Trapani said that she really sees her role is as a commentator.  To me , that implies that she simply reacts to news, gives her opinion, and endorses.

I know that she is a software developer herself, an insider for many years, and well connected with the people and trends that are moving the industry.  Her analysis I one that I would trust.  But, described as a commentator, I’m less inclined to give weight to her view than to her journalistic co-host.

More generally, the world seems to be filling with commentators, ‘talking heads’ that gather audience rather than insight.  It takes work to reflect on events, dig into background, and deliver thoughtful perspectives, the stories that make sense of the news.  Fewer and fewer seem willing to do it.

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