Friday, January 30, 2009


Another catch-all term that appears frequently in information technology (IT) articles and press releases is ‘enterprise.’ It’s used in the sense that considers a business as a collective organization, but it also conveniently hints at its other meanings, suggesting the readiness to undertake any bold, challenging activity.

That might be fine, harmless optimism as far as it goes, but now this buzzword often appears to be used as though it were inherently a measure of quality. For example, in eWeek, Andrew Garcia writes about “Enterprise-Grade Wireless LAN” technology, which suggests it performs at a certain level.

Meanwhile, a headline in PC World claims ‘Netbooks Aren’t Enterprise-Worthy,’ yet the first paragraph of the corresponding story argues, “they might be okay for small businesses.” The implication, then, is that large businesses are enterprises, but small ones are not. This is nonsense.

In the truest spirit of the word, an enterprise may well only consist of a handful of people working toward a common business goal. And their needs may be paltry compared to the promised benefits—and high prices—of so-called enterprise-grade products and services.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Information technology (IT) has become fertile ground for buzzwords, particularly as new terms are needed to describe various aspects of computing. Perhaps due to the sheer speed of this trend, there are often linguistic inconsistencies within this one sector.

Almost everyone is aware, for example, of the dangers posed by computer viruses, whereby hidden programming code can corrupt systems or erase important data. Yet, just as computer users take preventive measures against viruses, many of them also revel today in so-called viral content.

For as an adjective, ‘viral’ has come to describe not the traits of computer viruses that are unknowingly spread from system to system, but instead any content that catches on within social networks and is quite happily shared among computer users.

The aim of viral marketing, for example, is to increase awareness of a corporate brand by providing content that captures the attention of users who will then choose to let other users know about it.

Viral videos can originate with no predetermined plan at all to perpetuate them, yet quickly become popular as they are shared via the Internet.  Users wanting to be entertained will actively seek out these clips.

Indeed, such content is not treated like computer viruses at all. It may be time for the users to remember than when something is truly ‘viral,’ it’s a threat, not a treat.

Monday, January 26, 2009


The entertainment industry often establishes and perpetuates buzzwords by using them in titles of movies, TV shows, songs and video games. They may sound catchy, but are rarely used correctly.

For example, a 1999 personal computer (PC) game, Requiem: Avenging Angel, allowed players to join a futuristic holy battle between Heaven and Hell as the angel Malachi. At no point, however, did the game resemble the meaning of ‘requiem,’ i.e. a service, musical piece or book memorializing the dead.

Lately, this misuse seems to have caught on. In December 2007, the violent science-fiction thriller Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem opened in movie theatres, depicting a variety of nasty creatures killing the residents of a small town in Colorado, but notably never pausing to commemorate their victims.

In February 2009, an episode of the superhero TV series Smallville, titled ‘Requiem,’ will pit several protagonists against a bomber whose explosion kills a corporation’s board members. It’s probably fair to predict this story, too, will spend more time on pursuit and battle than on memorials for one-off bit characters.

While ‘requiem’ is certainly not a buzzword in common parlance, Hollywood seems attracted to its air of gravitas and poignancy, as though it could class up any old caper. It really can’t.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Not all buzzwords represent misuse of the language. Some instead represent correct but needlessly showy overuse.

One example that seems to bother many writers and editors is the verb ‘to leverage.’ Its use has become common so quickly, it runs the risk of frequently being written and spoken by those who do not know what it means.

While this differs from blatant misuse, it’s not much more legitimate. The catchy nature of ‘leverage’ is moving it—much like ‘hybrid’—from specific to general connotations. While the verb’s meaning entails bringing any object into a position of advantage (analogous to the use of an actual lever), in North America it has tended in the past to serve primarily as a business terma, referring to financial speculation about the profit potential of borrowed capital.

Its use in other contexts can become simply ludicrous. Nelson Lin, president and CEO of Robocoder, a software developer in Richmond, B.C., promises his company’s technology will “allow companies the opportunity to leverage its perfected source code to maintain their mission critical enterprise software applications.” An upcoming American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) online seminar is titled ‘Leveraging Green to Become Stronger and More Cost-Efficient.’ And Education Week suggests one way to improve children’s education is to “leverage parents.

While none of these uses is wrong per se, all are examples of a buzzword being used for its fancy sound, rather than its basic meaning.

Friday, January 23, 2009

in actual fact

Much like the previously discussed case of ‘literally,’ many buzzwords are deployed to provide force of emphasis, exaggeration or intensification. People use these blunt instruments to sound more serious about their topic of conversation.

The urge can drive them to speak redundantly, as though thinly disguised repetition could make their point stronger. One common example is the phrase ‘in actual fact.’

Spoken far more frequently than it is written (at least on this side of the Atlantic Ocean), it’s a needlessly wordy way of saying ‘actually’ or ‘in fact,’ either of which would be fine on its own. Yet, it seems to slip past many nitpickers’ radar because it somehow sounds more scholarly than slangy.

On January 23, 2009, a Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustee—of all people—was quoted in The Financial Post as saying, presumably with no sense of irony, “The motion is in actual fact kind of redundant.”

The scholarly tinge the phrase carries in countries like Canada may be the fault of their colonial past. The BBC World Service, after all, recommends the phrase in its Learning English program:

 … we can … use in actual fact or as a matter of fact to clarify matters or to introduce new information.

Just because “we can,” however, doesn’t mean “we should.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


It’s amazing how quickly new terminology can be adopted as buzzwords. Consider ‘mashup,’ a young word made popular through digital media, music, videos and web applications.

A mashup is a derived work comprising components from other existing works. Many clips on YouTube, for example, are user-generated files that combine video and audio from a variety of sources, re-edited to create new pieces.

As mashups have become easier for anyone with a computer to compose, the term has begun to creep into other sectors. The Hartford Courant included fashion designer Marc Jacobs in its 2008 Image Index because “his multi-culti mash-up collections for Spring '09 were among the season's best.” Los Angeles Times movie reviewer Robert Abele suggests the new film Chandni Chowk to China can “only be termed genre-mashup overkill.” And in June 2009, the Youth Marketing Mashup—really just a conference—will take place in San Francisco, Calif.

Such uses threaten to chip away at the term’s original meaning until it is no more. Jacobs’ fashions might be mashups if he used materials from previously existing clothing, but he doesn’t. Chandni Chowk certainly wasn’t edited from other movies’ footage. Notably, it features the first action movie sequences ever filmed on the Great Wall of China; how can something without precedent be a mashup? And calling a conference a mashup just smacks of desperation to sound young.

A new word deserves better—it deserves a chance to be understood for its own merits before it is co-opted for other purposes. At the very least, wait until it’s in a few more dictionaries first.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Can a number become a buzzword? One that seems to have done so is pronounced “two point oh.

Born from the terminology used to refer to subsequent iterations of computer software, ‘2.0’ made its way toward the mainstream lexicon in 2004, when information technology (IT) developers gathered for the first Web 2.0 Expo. The name of this event, its organizers suggested, reflected a trend whereby the World Wide Web was becoming a computing platform unto itself.

Today, just as the web has come to affect a broader swath of the population, so too has ‘2.0.’ With wider acceptance, however, it has lost what little meaning and context it might previously have earned.

Some uses relate back to Web 2.0, such as ‘Government 2.0’ when referring to the public sector’s adoption of web-based service delivery. Many recent instances have not, including corporate calls for ‘Bailout 2.0’ and the following offender, which appeared in a piece by Tyler Hamilton in The Toronto Star on January 16, 2009:

… a new generation of energy-efficient vehicles, or what some are calling ‘Car 2.0.’

The fact that ‘some’ may be using the term ‘Car 2.o’ is certainly no reason for newspapers to perpetuate it. And it is particularly ironic that the vehicles Hamilton writes about, electric cars, should if anything be called ‘Car 1.0,’ given that the original electric cars predate both gasoline and diesel automobiles.

Indeed, the quiet and smoke-free electric car was reportedly popular with none other than Henry Ford’s wife, Clara Jane Bryant, who no doubt would be amused to hear it now referred to as something new, innovative and so very 2.0.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Some buzzwords spread because they seem more intelligent and complicated than their simpler alternatives. Such is the case with ‘utilize,’ a verb which in every instance can be substituted with the much more elegant ‘use.’

For example, on January 17, 2009, The Globe And Mail reported plans in Washington, D.C., to redesign the East Wing of the White House for the incoming U.S. president, Barack Obama. It quoted designer Michael Smith, who in a released statement cited the Obama family’s interest in “utilizing affordable brands and products.”

There is certainly some irony in a high-profile interior designer—whose past clients include celebrities Steven Spielberg, Cindy Crawford and Dustin Hoffman—trying to convey affordable simplicity with the needlessly technical ‘utilizing.’

Most writers are taught early on to keep language simple and straightforward. When they write fictional dialogue, for example, they are encouraged to attribute it to their characters with a simple ‘said,’ rather than the likes of ‘exclaimed,’ ‘declared’ or other overwrought synonyms.

Similarly, the beautifully brief ‘use’ can be relied upon universally, without needing to resort to more colourful variations. Also, as a noun, it can handily replace ‘usage’ and ‘utilization.’

While repetition itself can be a plague on language, this unassuming three-letter wonder is simply not fancy enough for readers (or listeners, when spoken) to tire of it. Indeed, they’ll hardly notice it—which is a good thing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


It’s hopefully not too prudish to suggest that randy euphemisms can really ruin words for everyday use. A common example is the adjectival form of ‘adult,’ which dictionaries define in relatively tame terms like ‘grown-up,’ ‘mature’ and  ‘for or of adults’—while also citing the euphemistic meaning, ‘sexually explicit.’

There was a time when one could refer to books, movies and situations as adult without warranting a nudge or a wink. Those days may be gone. A few exceptions remain, like ‘adult contemporary’ radio stations, which specialize in easy listening music that is very tame indeed—but for the most part, the word has needlessly been burdened with bawdiness.

It may not help matters that ‘adult’ has always been linguistically tied to ‘adultery,’ which by definition denotes a sexually explicit act. Yet that aside, the current trend of referring to the risqué as ‘adult’ smacks of euphemistic opportunism, a gradual neutering of ideas and contexts that, while not inherently wicked, tend to strike the fainthearted as distasteful.

Euphemisms are among the worst kinds of buzzwords. They can’t be justified on the basis of ignorance or innocence; everyone knows what they've come to mean, yet they’re used anyway to pussyfoot around the rougher edges of language.

Rougher edges help make languages colourful, not just dull and practical. As the cliché goes, “Call a spade a spade.” Blunt and specific should win out over gentle and vague.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

is (pl.)

English is one of those languages that distinguish between singular and plural verb tenses—but lately, this distinction has sometimes been missed.

On January 10, 2009, The Toronto Star ran an article by its Asia bureau chief, Bill Schiller, about Charter 08, an admirable “grassroots petition for human rights” in China. At one point, while describing the current state of that country, he writes, “the glow and glue of the Olympics is gone.”

Now, no matter how closely stuck together glow and glue might be, they will always be, well, ‘they,’ not ‘it.’ As such, the corresponding verb should be pluralized: ‘are,’ not ‘is.’

The same article is guilty of another poorly conjugated construction elsewhere. A professor in New York, Thomas Kellogg, is quoted as saying, “The charter’s depth, breadth, eloquence and sophistication indicates a significant step forward.”

Clearly, the verb should be conjugated in the plural tense, as ‘indicate,’ given that it refers to multiple facets of the charter.

There may be a pesky trend at work whereby various elements in a sentence are treated as a singular noun, even when explicitly presented as a list. Schiller’s article brings to mind a scene in the 1999 blockbuster, The Matrix, when a threatening Sentinel robot is described as, “a killing machine designed for one thing … search and destroy.” Uh, those would be two things ….

Monday, January 12, 2009

brave new world

Playwright William Shakespeare coined the phrase ‘brave new world’ in The Tempest, wherein the sheltered and naïve Miranda declares:

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world

That has such people in’t!

Later, it was used ironically by Rudyard Kipling in the poem The Gods of the Copybook Headings:

… after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins …

Most famously, the phrase was again used ironically as the title of a 1932 dystopic novel by Aldous Huxley. The book depicted a nightmarish future society of strictly enforced castes, indoctrination by hypnotic slogans, conspicuous consumption and a lack of acceptance of individualism.

Huxley’s satirical connotation became the dictionary definition. How disturbing, then, to see these three words show up today with no sense of irony whatsoever.

RISMedia’s Real Estate Magazine shares wisdom and advice for real estate firms “Entering a Brave New World.” The online newsletter Dexigner espouses “The Brave New World of ‘Effect Design.’” And The Toronto Star’s theatre critic, Richard Ouzounian, praises with Miranda-like wonder “a series of unique partnerships that are paving the way for a brave new world of multimedia production.”

These writers and publications seem utterly unaware of the phrase’s well-established baggage. Fortunately, others at least acknowledge Huxley’s bleak sense of foreboding.

The Independent’s Dom Joly references “Huxley’s brave new world of robotic surveillance” (though his Huxley is a pet dog and the robotic surveillance involves a collar camera). The Chicago Tribune worries that “the brave new world of street parking ... limited only by the imagination—and thirst for profits—of the free-enterprise system that increasingly is taking over functions performed exclusively until now by the government.” And perhaps most fittingly, the New Haven Register suggests, “Be cautious about genetics’ brave new world.”

These voices, however, are now a minority. Most times the phrase ‘brave new world’ is trotted out, it’s in an attempt to sell a sense of optimism—an attempt that is blissfully ignorant of the phrase’s reference to supposed happiness.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Ever since the information technology (IT) industry adopted the word ‘architecture’—previously associated primarily with the design and construction of buildings—and used it to denote conceptual structures of computing systems’ various processing elements, the word seems to have become fair game for all other sectors of society.

An article in the Harvard International Review calls upon the future U.S. president, Barack Obama, to “organize an effective National Security Architecture.” In India, The Economic Times reports that the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, is working with other countries “to create a new financial architecture that will prevent future shocks to the global economy.” And the Air Force Times reports on something called a “nuclear inspection architecture.”

These are specious riffs on the broader definition of ‘architecture’ as any sort of design or structure, but even worse is a newer trend—primarily in the IT sector—to use ‘architect’ as a verb.

A recent IT job posting in British Columbia (no longer up) sought candidates with “the ability to architect and deploy solutions.” Mercury Computer Solutions promises to “work closely with customers to architect comprehensive, purpose-built solutions.” And InfoQueue recently reported on “Architecting for Green Computing.”

Such use is particularly obnoxious given that, in every case, a simple ‘design’ or ‘build’ would do the trick without any loss of context or meaning.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Sometimes a term becomes a buzzword by taking on the meaning of another word with which it is often associated. This may be what happened with ‘critical,’ which seems to be used frequently to suggest a thing is ‘critically important.’

When something (rather than someone) is critical, it is at a decisive or crucial point, possibly one of crisis. For example, on January 5, 2009, Reuters ran the headline, “Russia gas supplies to Bulgaria at critical level.”

In many cases, however, things are said today to be critical that are not. For example, an innovations report calls “risk management critical to corporate strategy.” What it means to suggest is that risk management is critically important; it is not implying a subject only now at a point of crisis. While perhaps timely in some senses, the report is giving general advice, not merely an of-the-moment status update.

The government of Canada (along with other governments around the world) often refers to various assets, from hospitals to power lines, as “critical infrastructure.” What it means by this is infrastructure that is critically important; i.e. essential at times of crisis. It does not mean that such infrastructure is constantly on the brink of collapsing.

Indeed, it is highly ironic to see a term with negative connotations related to crises used to describe the very foundations of modern society. If transportation networks, water pipes and telecommunications lines were literally “critical infrastructure,” no one would feel sufficiently confident to use them at any time!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


In uncertain times, everyone seems to want a “roadmap to success.”

Possibly the most famous (and still newsworthy, for unfortunate reasons) is the Roadmap for Peace. Developed by the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States, it was presented in 2003 to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in an effort to lead toward “a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

The term has really caught on since then as an optimistic buzzword. The Salvation Army is backing a “sustainable clothing roadmap” to boost the recycling and reuse of garments. An aide to Pope Benedict XVI reports the pontiff has a “roadmap for hope.” The South China Morning Post suggests Hong Kong “needs to work out a viable road map to achieve full democracy.”

These are plans, however, not maps at all. This is where the metaphor breaks down.

A map is a representation of the arrangement of geographical features or other attributes of the physical environment. It offers expansive and detailed information to assist its users in making decisions, but it does not make decisions for them.

A plan, on the other hand, gives specific directions for going from A to B. It is not like a true road map at all, but akin to a party host telling his friends how to get to his home. Such directions may certainly complement the use of a road map, but they are not the map itself.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Scientific terms may risk turning into the kinds of buzzwords that lose the most context and meaning, as they move from highly specialized use into the mainstream and are subsequently misconstrued. One example is the current trend to use ‘DNA’ metaphorically in reference to companies and organizations, rather than living organisms, which are the only subjects to which it applies literally.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), as most laymen are likely aware, carries an organism’s genetic instructions, offering a sort of blueprint for building other components of that organism’s cells. As such, it can be said to define much of what is predetermined about organisms. It is not something that can be altered.

Yet, as a buzzword, ‘DNA’ is often used instead to describe attributes of companies and organizations that have intentionally been put in place, arranged by human hand, rather than predestined. This misuse can reach absurd lengths—in November 2008, The Economist featured an interview with an MTV executive (noticeably a puff piece by that publication’s standards) that opened with the following bit of unintentional irony:

Judy McGrath believes that “change has to be in everyone’s DNA, personally and professionally.”

Unfortunately for McGrath and other wishful thinkers, change is one trait to which DNA does not particularly lend itself—and even if it somehow were, ensuring its presence is a highly fanciful notion given that no organism has any choice in the matter.

Monday, January 5, 2009


One of the most oddly used buzzwords at the moment is ‘franchise,’ which has somehow slipped into descriptions of pop culture.

Dictionaries already cover a variety of definitions for the word, from a franchise business (i.e. a store, restaurant or other entity authorized to sell a franchisor’s services and/or products) to the right to vote in elections, from a league-authorized sports team to a legal exemption or immunity.

To these established meanings has been added the conceit of describing pretty much any major pop-culture property—e.g. Harry Potter, Batman or James Bond—as a media franchise. The reason this context seems ill-fitting, however, is that these entities, while perhaps more nebulous than tangible, are in themselves closer to goods and services—so-called ‘intellectual property’—than they are to an act of authorization or those who might benefit from such an act.

A city’s sports team can benefit from being part of a high-profile major league, much as a corner coffee shop can benefit from being part of a popular national chain. A ‘media franchise’ like Indiana Jones, however, is not the local beneficiary of being associated with a larger brand—it is the larger brand. It is what is being sold to consumers. It’s the coffee or the football game, it’s not the barista or the quarterback.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Colours seem to lend themselves to metaphor-based meanings. A sad person is blue, while an angry one sees red. Such turns of phrase handily avoid unintentional ambiguity—they’re poetic because they generally describe things that aren’t actually those colours.

Today, however, clarity of meaning is increasingly threatened by the widespread adoption of a colourful buzzword with the best of intentions but little quality control: ‘green.’

As perhaps the most mainstream manifestation of the environmental protection movement, ‘green’ is being applied to all sorts of things, from office buildings to dietary habits. The more frequently it is simply attached to any given noun, however, the higher the risk for clumsy ambiguity.

For instance, a greenhouse is commonly known to be a transparent building wherein plants are grown—but as today’s homeowners seek to reduce their energy bills through efficiency-minded renovations, they follow the model of so-called ‘green houses,’ i.e. recent examples of environmentally friendlier architecture. Thus, these are houses predominantly for people, not plants.

Another linguistic paradox can be found in ‘green revolution,’ a term that’s been around long enough to be defined by dictionaries as both (a) the growth of environmental concerns, generally in industrialized countries, and (b) the trend toward higher-yield crop production, particularly in developing countries, by using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that are certainly not environmentally friendly.

Such contradictions will likely be worked out over time, but not without some reduction of the current mania for green hype (hopefully without reducing anyone’s actual commitment to the cause of environmental protection, which deserves to be far more than a fad).

In the meantime, we’re stuck with the likes of CBC’s current project One Million Acts of Green, which manages to mistreat an adjective as a noun. Consider how clearly obnoxious is the grammar of, say, ‘One Million Acts of Happy’—yet such misuse of ‘green’ seems to be given, by much of society, a green light.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Buzzwords become all the more annoying when no one else seems to acknowledge them as such. Indeed, a widespread willingness not to question a buzzword may only help it flourish. So, it is all the more thrilling when a long-running cliché is rebuked somewhere other than, say, a grumpy editor’s blog.

The Torontoist is a blog, but a relatively mainstream one that does not usually concern itself with the ebbs and flows of contemporary linguistics, focusing rather on Toronto-related news, events, culture, politics, public space and other areas of coverage that actually affect a lot of people. It was therefore surprising (and gratifying) when one of its recently nominated ‘Villains of 2008’ was not an ornery politician or other distasteful public figure, but rather a single word, “killing.”

Specifically, on December 26, 2008, the Torontoist took local media to task for using sensationalistic headlines featuring “killing” and similar terms when clearly unwarranted:

What's been up with the front page headlines on this city's weekly alternative papers this year? It seemed like it was impossible to pass a green or yellow newspaper box without being told about "THE END" of this, "THE DEATH" of that, or, most annoyingly, asked, "Is so-and-so KILLING such-and such?" "Are bars killing West Queen West?" "Is Rock Band killing music?" "Is digital killing the art of photography?" "Is Girl Talk killing music?" The answer to all of these questions is a simple "no" …

… we understand that news media is all about finding the story and making dull facts interesting, and many of the articles that accompany these headlines are well-written and thought-provoking. But this kind of front-page sensationalism makes the publication seem less like the hip and savvy alternative to the mainstream media and more like a scandal-hungry supermarket tabloid.

The simple verb “to kill” has long spawned far too many metaphorical meanings to count, a large handful of which will show up among dictionary definitions, but it’s refreshing when someone pauses once in a while to acknowledge the context of some of these meanings as overheated sensationalismrather than the typical responses of eyes glazing over or, even worse, taking hype at its word.

Unfortunately, media of all types are desperate today to catch readers' attention and there are likely to be a lot more ‘killer’ headlines in the near future, not less. Hopefully, the Torontoist’s cheeky accusation of villainy in such will help some readers think twice.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Those of us who receive press releases from a wide variety of sources may be forgiven for assuming that all companies and organizations are now in the same line of work, as they uniformly seem to be offering something called ‘solutions.’

One of the most insidious buzzwords today, ‘solutions’ has come to entail any mix of products and/or services. Some companies promise a combination of both; others offer only one or the other. They’re all missing the point, though.

Generally, a solution isn’t anything tangible (though a notable exception will be discussed in a moment), but rather the means, act or value of solving a problem. An obvious example is a math solution, but in the broader sense, any answer, decision or explanation is a solution, as it addresses a difficulty.

Amazingly, however, this dictionary definition doesn’t seem to be broad enough for today’s tastes. Instead, we hear about storage solutions, IT solutions, energy solutions, banking solutions, etc., etc. The word is used to describe so many products and services, it ends up as a meaningless catch-all.

The only legitimate type of solution that is truly tangible is a mixture—whether liquid, semi-liquid or even solid—produced through the use of a solvent. We all learned about these solutions in chemistry class.  Is it possible that marketing departments perceive the combination of their goods and services as somehow akin to chemical solutions? It’s a big stretch, but even then, it wouldn’t explain all of the similarly branded one-offs, from closet organizers to software.

If instead companies are trying to suggest they can solve problems, it’s interesting to note they do not mention what these problems are—or even acknowledge that they exist. ‘Solutions’ are instead offered in a blissfully optimistic voice that never deigns to suggest anything could be wrong or might need to be fixed. The inference is everything, allowing the world ‘solutions’ to serve as a reassuring platitude, nothing more.

It cannot be reassuring, however, for consumers to find themselves faced with countless companies seemingly all offering the same thing. In an age of information overload, it would make far better business sense for them to stand out of the crowd by *gasp* being specific about what they offer.