Thursday, August 4, 2011

Language Log » Xtreme nerdview

Why conceptual modeling will always be needed….

I don't do surveys, so don't ask. I cannot afford a quarter of an hour answering an ill-designed list of questions for you so that your manager can use the scientifically worthless results to make out a case that your service unit is doing a good job. And don't call me on the phone and tell me you're doing some social science research, because I just know there will be a follow-up call trying to sell me carpets or enrol me in a political action committee. However, my colleague Bob Ladd encouraged me to do a survey about the new building in which the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences lives its generally happy life at the University of Edinburgh. He told me there would be a treat at the end in terms of what I have dubbed nerdview. And boy, was there a treat.

The defining feature of nerdview is the confusing of the viewpoint of the technical specialist on the inside with that of the general public outside, so that language suited only to the internal/technical perspective gets delivered to an external/layperson audience, resulting in unintelligibility. And here you really see it writ large, to a degree that seems almost moronic. This would scarcely seem plausible in a Dilbert cartoon strip. This is xtreme nerdview.

Language Log » Xtreme nerdview

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