I spent the afternoon in a meeting of the advisory board of Make Technology, on which I serve. They do what they call “Standards Based Automation”; their product lets you write down most of your semantics and data model in a bunch of XML Schemas and XSLT and so on, then generate mountains of Java code to do all the plumbing for whatever your app server is - if you've got a big Java development project in the works you could do worse than call them. Anyhow, we were talking about how they've been doing in recent months and the CEO said “We're really getting traction with this stuff”. Boy, I've been hearing that word a lot recently.

I kind of like it, and for anyone who's ever put much effort into marketing and sales, “traction” is nicely evocative of the way it feels when the message starts working. If for no other reason, because we're all familiar with the sickening spinning-the-wheels sensation of pouring time and money into marketing that doesn't work.

On the other hand, like everything else the marketing profession gets their hand on, it's getting over-used to the point of meaninglessness. In Make's case, they really have seen a nice little revenue spike in recent months, but in recent months I've heard people claim "traction" for a marketing program just because they rewrote the PowerPoints and think they look better.

Ain't a living language wonderful?

author · Dad
colophon · rights
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March 20, 2003
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