Generally, buzzwords are a lot of hype; trendy phrases created by journalists or bloggers trying to fill column inches or go viral. Sometimes, they are picked up in jest, but no one has the gumption to just put them down and walk away (i.e. Bennifer).
I think Lucy hit the nail on the head, “Being named a buzzword doesn’t mean that the ideas matter. It also doesn’t mean that an idea is nothing but fluff.”
Curious about this, I did some quick research about buzzwords of years past. The first notable thing is that I had a hard time finding non-industry-specific lists beyond 2005, which is one indication of how well buzzwords stand the test of time (or maybe just Google’s search algorithms).
It turns out some words have migrated into the mainstream cultural lexicon: Stephen Colbert’s “Truthiness”, Kevin Federline aka “Fed-Ex”, new age “Web 2.0″, Pluto’s (heartbreaking) downgrade to “Dwarf Planet” – all from 2006.
And the newly diagnosed (unglamorously named) disease “Popcorn Lung”, the “Surge” military tactic, Seth Godin’s “Meatball Sundae” approach to social networking, “Bacn”: the other Spam, Grey’s Anatomy’s anatomical nickname “Vajayjay” – from 2007.
The ultimate goal of buzzwords, however, is to go beyond buzz into actual acceptance and general usage. What catch-phrases of today will we be using tomorrow? What big ideas will come to fruition? Regarding the Top 10 List, Lucy says:
I believe that some of these ideas matter in profound and meaningful ways – whether or not the actual buzzword is the term that sticks. Notably, the ideas, purposes, and mechanics behind B Corporations, Social Stock Exchanges, Aligned Investing, and Endorsement Philanthropy have the potential to make lasting and significant change in the business of giving. Microfranchising also stands to change how aid and development efforts are organized. The concepts that underpin open philanthropy are critical to a more transparent, accountable, and leveraged set of giving practices – let’s hope they take hold.
So without further adieu,
Lucy Bernholz’s Top 10 Philanthropy Buzzwords of 2007
10. Philanthropy 2.0
9. B Corporation
8. Endorsement Philanthropy
7. Social Stock Exchanges
6. Embedded Giving (quick toot of the GlobalGiving horn: we like this buzzword and the Washington Post article about it this weekend)
5. Aligned investing
4. Open Philanthropy