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Our SXSW Learnings About Buzzwords

March 14th, 2019


Shelly Palmer, one of our favorite technology writers, is at SXSW and he's discovered that everything is powered by AI. Unless it uses blockchain. Or possibly both, and it all runs on a 5G network. Except that in the U.S. 5G hardly exists.

In his first 24 hours at the massive South by Southwest conference, festival, art show, etc., Palmer heard so many buzzwords, used so wrongly that his head was about to explode. To let off the pressure, he blogged about it. It's the kind of post that will have you agreeing, as you laugh with him at the efforting of so many to be trendy without actually knowing anything.

Here's a sample.

On the subject of AI: " Person: “Our [fill in the blank] uses AI to blah, blah, blah.” Me: “How exactly does it do that?” Person: “Um … it learns by itself.” Truly, I’m going to die. No, your project does not use AI the way you are describing it. To someone who knows the state of the art, you sound like a moron. To someone who doesn’t know anything about AI, you sound like a Martian."

On blockchain: "Please stop saying the word “blockchain.” Forget you ever heard it. You don’t know what it means. You don’t know how it works, and most importantly, you have no idea when or why it is an appropriate solution for your use case."

On calling someone a rock star: "When you can jump across the stage and land on your knees while playing a Bb7#9 chord, screaming the lyrics (on key) with pyrotechnics exploding all around you in front of 20,000 adoring fans, you’re a rock star.If you’re great at media buying or human resources … enough said."

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