Everyday Semiotics

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


NPR's "Talk of the Nation" today was essentially a meditation on a neologism that, once I'd heard it, I liked quite a lot. The ideagora is the ubernet, the Web/ blogosphere/ Blackberryscape/ cellphonebrowserverse, a series of tubes unlike any we've imagined hitherto. But of course whenever we talk about any of these things, we're really talking about the people inputting and outputting with their assistance.

In the ideagora, research and development is redefined. The realization of the ideagora is a moving beyond cellular, corporate innovation and off into the real of the viral, the spontaneous, the unexpected, perhaps even the previously thought impossible. It's a function of wikinomics (another neologism -- less pleasing to my ear, simply because "wiki" always sounded a bit off to me [But don't get me wrong -- I love wikis as a thing.]), the collaborative, shared economy where knowledge as raw material is inexhaustible and also free.

I say "ideagora" and "wikinomics" are neologisms; but really they're just portmanteau words. The former is a combination of "idea" and agora, the ancient Greek word for marketplace, at least so far as that marketplace is also a sort of forum in the classical sence. The later is a portmanteau born of a neologism (wiki, a foreshortening of Wiki Wiki Web, the Hawaiian-influenced name given by Ward Cunningham in 1994 to the very first wiki softwear) and one of the oldest words there is (economics, which in the originary Greek oikonomia meant management of one's home).

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