Monday, August 27, 2007

Future: Traditional Bacn

When I talk about the pace of change accelerating, I am not kidding around. I just read this on the CBC site:

Providing free SMS "...comes as Yahoo Mail faces stiff competition not only from traditional rivals such as Microsoft's Hotmail and Google's gmail, but also social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook."
How can a company incorporated Oct 22 2002 be a "traditional rival" to a company incorporated in March 1995? Gmail hit the scene as a beta circa 2004. Three years makes a tradition now? Less? Facebook is still a toddler in human years (started 2004, grew from 24 to 32
million users
in June and July 2007).

The thing that really struck me about all this was that the word felt right. Google and Yahoo are mature web citizens. Facebook is a perky kid, and Microsoft is geriatric. The time frames for traditions are quickly shifting: already, they are o longer based on the last human generation, they are based on the last digital one.

So what's this "bacn"? Last week (Aug 18-19), at Podcamp Pittsburgh this term was invented. Pronounced "bacon", it's any email you receive that isn't spam, but isn't really personal either. An electronic phone bill; Facebook updates; Google alerts: these are bacn. (BTW, the 'o' is missing in homage to the current trend of dropped vowels - like the blubrry network.)

Today, only eight days later, the search "bacn +spam" turns up thousands of entries on Google. It's a legitimate word, invented and in common use in days. I remember my excitement when "pythonesque" joined the 'official' dictionary. Etymonline says it originated in 1975, but I know it didn't become a 'real' word for at least a decade (I can't find a reference for this one - just my memory, from high school, I think).

The singularity will always be just a moment away - but the moment is getting shorter, fast.

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