‘Betwixt’ is Semi-Trending: The New Insight into Old English

Look at that fucking upswing.

Look at that fucking upswing.

Speculative word nerds, keep your dotted eyes fixed on “betwixt,” the Old English utterance enjoying a semi-comeback, thanks to insights gleaned from from Google’s word search.

Giving the likes of Dictionary.com a run for their money (let alone Wiktionary, sans the money), Google has for many years displayed a definition at the top of its search page for any word whose meaning it suspects one might enjoy clarification — stygian, for instance.

Realizing, however, that everything is better with infographics, Google now adorns definitions with a tempting-looking down arrow, begging for the click. To this I say: user, be thyself tempted, and click thyself to a cavalcade of etymological joy.

First drops down the word’s origin, illustrated in March-Madness-style tournament brackets, tracing the roots of the word through branches of time and space. Betwixt itself proves an excellent example, arriving betwixt a confluence of wordlets:

This is what betting pools at the OED look like.

This is what office betting pools look like at the OED.

Offering, after this, an option to translate the word into any which language — including Welsh (rhyngof), Finnish (yhdessä jkn kanssa), and Bulgarian (изправих между) — Google then offers the Googliest insight of them all: trending usage through time.

As one can see in the abovemost picture, betwixt has seen better days, but like that of the proverbial British empire, the sunlight twinkles at the edge of the horizon.

Enjoying a newfound popularity — a moderate popularity, to be sure; a restrained popularity, a Canadian-esque sort of ascendancy — betwixt breezes upwards from the trough years of the aughts, caught as it seemingly was in recessionary mires. (Betwixt bubbles up in the jollier of times, when credit default swaps comport themselves more suitably.)

Could this be a mere aberration, or might boring, overused “between” finally be falling to its zestier, twixtier cousin?

Trending at SXSW: Sex; Anonymity; Free Sunglasses. (Also, Google Glass is definitely creepy.)

Chuka Chase, rocking the wood-grains.

Chuka Chase, rocking the wood-grains.

Southby! It’s that time of the year again, when gobsmacking masses of techies converge in the Texas capital for five days of drinking, trend-chasing, drinking, drinking, socializing, scavenging free barbeque, drinking, standing in lines, sporting the occasional pushup, and chasing the next big thing. Also, drinking.

The widely buzzed-about (or over-hyped, depending on your perspective) festival famously serves as a launchpad for emerging technology trends. The atmosphere offers a palpable taste of the zeitgeist — live at the time of this writing, at the Samsung Blogger Lounge, panelists dive into a live YouTube show, What’s Trending.

SX revolutionized the sharing economy when then-ramen-unprofitable AirBNB revolutionized short-term home sharing. It shifted social media when Twitter blew up, most famously with Scott Beale’s impromptu AltaVista party. It helped launch the musical career of impossible-to-spell-his-name-without-Googling-it Macaulay Culkin’s Pizza Band. And this year includes, among other highlights — not to be confused with Highlight — real-life Mario Kart racing.

Often referred to as “spring break for nerds,” attendees oft scour for the same thing as people at every other spring break: sex. And this year, in particular, there’s an app for that. Many apps. On the top of everyone’s mind is Tinder, whose popularity seems impossible to quell. Then there’s the gay ol’ standby Grindr, whose Saturday night party promises to be… interesting.

Then there’s social dating app Down, rebranded from the infamous Bang With Friends. Offering double-opt-in matchmaking with a twist, users swipe “down” on a person’s face if they want to “get down,” or swipe up if they covet a date. Finally, a solution to humanity’s greatest challenge: separating those who want to date from those who want to fuck. (Venture capital at work!)

Since everyone is getting tired of Facebook’s insistence on real names, anonymity is enjoying a moment in the sun. Most popular, of course, is Secret, among a slew of emerging apps offering freedom from the glaring eye of everyone you know in real life. From another angle, internet privacy matters more than ever, with anonymous web-surfing trending along with the launch of The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.

Something you’d expect to see a lot of is Google Glass — but tellingly, there’s a lot more Regular Glass (it’s still a nerd conference, after all), not to mention sunglasses. Free shades dance about ubiquitously, elevated to the status of semi-official schwag. (Sidenote: bright neon frames are in, slatted Wayfarers and their assorted knock-offs are out.) When I met someone yesterday wearing Google Glasses, my first question was, “are you recording this?” and he replied, exasperatedly, “why does everyone keep asking me that?”

Bonus trend: “gif” is now definitely pronounced “jif.”

The Eight Official Emotions of Google Tech Support

Angry, annoyed... and possibly excited.

Angry, annoyed… and possibly excited?

How do you feel? LiveJournal wants to know. Facebook wants to know. And so, apparently, does Google Tech Support.

I recently filled out a support request with Google for a bug I’ve been experiencing with Hangouts. In addition to asking the usual questions — a description of the issue, steps to reproduce it, and level of priority — the Support form ends with an unusual inquest: How does this issue make you feel?

One might expect an open-ended field in which to input any number of emotions. Presciently, however, and a bit prescriptively, Google narrows tech-support-emotions to a drop-down menu of eight pre-defined options:

  • Confused
  • Frustrated
  • Worried
  • Panicked
  • Angry
  • Curious
  • Annoyed
  • Excited

So much for feeling lucky.

All of the above.

All of the above.

 

A Page Along the Goal Funnel

Indeed, Google. Indeed.

Indeed, Google Analytics. Indeed.

Thanks to a hat tip from #sfbeta Managing Producer Dellaena Maliszewski, I recently stumbled upon the Experiments section of Google Analytics, a nifty and powerful tool that helps webmasters test multiple versions of a single page, in order to track and optimize performance. Think Optimizely, but, like, run by Google.

Smack dab in the midst of the page appears the phrase, “A page along the goal funnel,” contextualized in wonderfully recursive terms:

Your experiment can focus on any single page that helps visitors accomplish a specific goal.

Via the goal funnel, obviously.

Dropped into a succinct bullet point so nonchalantly, reverberating with a distinctive, subtly poetic, yet cosmically meaningless timbre, “a page along the goal funnel” enters the sociotechnical milieu with subtle grace and a twinkle of arrogance, becoming the liveliest phrase to dance about the internet since Williams-Sonoma popularized the light mist of tangy juice.

#sfbeta Endorses Boycott of Coca-Cola

#sfbeta endorses the the Boycott of Coca-Cola and calls on other startups to do the same.

Coca-Cola is a signature sponsor of the 2014 Olympic Games, which have come under intense scrutiny due the fierce anti-gay legislation recently enacted in host country Russia.

The anti-gay law has unleashed a series of violent actions against the country’s LGBT community, with police often joining homophobic aggressors in contributing to, rather than curtailing, hate-inspired violence.

“It’s a scary place for LGBT people in Russia right now.”

Despite the public outcry against the law, which Brian Burke, former Toronto Maple Leaves General Manager, has called “repugnant,” Coca-Cola refuses to withdraw their sponsorship of the games, and remains silent on the controversial law itself.

Reactions against Coca-Cola have been fierce and swift, driven largely by the LGBT and allied communities. A Facebook page called Boycott 2014 Olympic Games in Russia has attracted 55,000 likes, whose frequent posts attracted the attention of television pundit Keith Olbermann:

On August 29, demonstrators gathered in Times Square, crushing Coca-Cola cans and pouring the sugary drink conspicuously down city drains. Journalist Craig Takeuchi reports, via the slightly-ironically-titled Straight.com,

Queer Nation NY and RUSA LGBT staged a demonstration in Times Square on August 29 to protest Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The activist organizations stated in a news release that they are demanding that the company withdraw its sponsorship.

“By sponsoring the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Coca-Cola is associating its brands with state-sanctioned gay-bashing,” Queer Nation cofounder Alan Klein stated. “Coca-Cola is sacrificing the safety and security of Russian LGBT people for profit—a position that opposes fundamental Olympic principles, runs counter to the International Olympic Committee charter, and that will tarnish its global image for decades to come.”

Klein also noted that Coca-Cola also sponsored the Olympics in Nazi Germany in 1936.

Crisp, clear, repressing.

Homophobia has no place in a just and civil society, and #sfbeta condemns the individuals who practice it, and corporations that condone it.

Besides, companies should know better: in the leadup to the 2012 United States Presidential Election, Aimee Castenell received over 115,000 signatures in a petition protesting Google’s sponsorship of ultra-conservative CPAC conference, and enjoined Google: “Don’t sponsor bigotry.” Aligning oneself with homophobia, whether in the form of a country, a conference, or a commentator, is never cool.

As an active voice in the startup and entrepreneurship community, #sfbeta calls for an end to Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

To co-sign your support (or express a rebuttal), please share your perspective in the comments below.