Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Astroturfing the sympathetically geekek massage

Back in the 1970s when I was growing up in Washington DC, one of the radio stations (I forget which) would occasionally run a short segment entitled "It's time to learn a Yiddish word." I don't recall that I ever actually learned any Yiddish words; foreign language vocabulary has never been one of my strong subjects.

But I can do better with English words. I learned one two days ago, courtesy Shel Israel and Geoff Livingston.

astroturfing is a term coined by one Charles Colson who worked in the White House for Richard Nixon. Whenever a newspaper or broadcast station said something unfavorable about the President, the news organization would be inundated with calls and letters in defense of the president--all produced by a small handful of paid Colson Lieutenants.

Colson called it "astroturfing." The campaign looked like grassroots, but in fact it was artificial like the stuff at the Houston Astrodome.

Geoff reports that the practice remains widespread among DC PR practitioners, news that I find far from shocking, but still depressing.

But the language that I really need to learn is Hungarian. I seem to recall that Hungarian is similar to Finnish, but the text below (taken from this post) looks pretty Hungarian to me.

A Twitter a tavalyi SXSW-n, vagyis egy, a MacWorldhöz hasonló geek show-n robbant be a köztudatba. A mai MacWorldön viszont behaltak a terhelés alatt. A blogon csak annyit írtak, hogy kicsit lassúak. Viszont az Apple-bejelentést követő twitterezők nem voltak ennyire megértőek.

Take a look at the last four words in the last sentence. Each of them links to various articles/posts discussing the #twittout during Steve Jobs' keynote address. The last word, "megértőek," links to one of my Tuesday posts.

Needless to say, I was kinda curious about what megértőek means. I tried to translate the entire article via InterTran, but most of it wouldn't translate properly (the clearest part of the translation: "who, than amilyen the geekek massage"). I then translated the single word megértőek, and got the English word "sympathetically."

So if someone in Google is performing a search for sympathetically geekek massage, I'm sorry to disappoint you; the massage comes from Steve Jobs and a bird that doesn't tweet.

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