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Lenins Mausoleum: The guy in here is actually dead

Lenin's Mausoleum: The guy in here is actually "dead"

I wanna kill ‘dead’.

Not in all contexts. The word has its moments. 

For instance, I might need to mention that “Gandhi is dead'” or my “Grandfather is dead”. The word is also useful when ominous signs appear on the horizon, such as “Oh no, a grizzly bear, we’re fucking dead!” 

But I am sick and tired of people telling me things are “dead” before they really are.

Chris Anderson, in the latest issue of Folio, has a piece on the web being dead. He’s also been trumpeting the “death” of print for years. (Others have created cute little infographics on this latter point)

Whatever the merits of any of the aforementioned arguments – and Anderson is obviously right about the rise of apps and the decline of the browser – “dead” is overused and wrongly employed.

Some other examples help illustrate the point:

I LOVE hip hop. Idiots have been declaring it “dead” for years. Yes, much of what is made now is crap I can’t stand, but people continue to make ridiculously good music that holds true to the core/original elements of the genre. This means it ain’t dead

The NFL is another passion. I spend a lot of time on Sundays in the Fall straining my marriage and widening my ass by watching this game. For years, folks have been yelling about how “The running game is dead”. Yet still Adrien Peterson, a running back who’s success is largely due to his ability to play a bruising “wear you down” classic running game, manages to be the most impactful player in the league. Clearly the ground game matters.

You get it.

Calling something “dead” in the Chris Anderson do-it-early way is easy. It allows one to look like a soothsayer.

Sometime the web may “die”. Sometime the sky may fall. Sometime humans may go the way of dinosaurs. But these occurences are likely awhile away.

For now, most of us still use the web. A whole bunch of us read print every day, despite the fact the numbers are declining. Hip hop – good hip hop – continues to be made. Having a marquee tailback is still almost essential to success in the NFL.

Yelling about the early “death” of something does not a genius make.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Krista says:

    I wasn’t shocked by the Wired story because Prince had beaten them to the punch by declaring the Internet was “over.” The Purple One is always one mysterious step ahead of us…

    I think there is some shock value to declaring something is “dead.” Consider the fact that the Wired story likely sold more copies at the news stand (if print is indeed still alive) and drove traffic to their website (if the web is not dead). I agree with you–we’re still picking up materials and reading them; we’re still connected to content on the web, regardless of how many apps we have. It might be more accurate to say the web is evolving, rather than obsolete.

  • Danny Starr says:

    I agree with Krista, it’s being done purely for publicity/link-baiting purposes.

    Actually, I think I’m going to make my next post Jackson Wightman is Dead…

    But seriously, I think we live in a world where you need to be bold and stick to the edges in order to get noticed. It’s a dirty tactic but until it gets turned out, you’re going to keep seeing it and see it more and more.

    Mike Arrington from TechCrunch recently pulled out the “no girls in tech” topic again and many feel that was simply done to be sensational.

    There was a good discussion of it on This Week in Tech:

  • You are both right. They are doing this to sell things/get attention. I am just sick and fucken tired of this bullshit. 🙂

  • Thank you! I absolutely agree with you! I get the point that dead is dramatic and it helps garner clicks and readers, but that word is so overused and often inaccurate in many references. It’s definitely one of the top 2010 buzzwords.

    I prefer to use the word evolved. I hear the “dead” mantra about my profession, PR, all the time. No PR is not dead, and neither are press releases. Both have evolved and are not what they were decades ago. There’s a huge difference between dead and evolved, and I think people need to start discussing the latter more often.

  • Danny Starr says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that these types of tricks for attention or clicks is going to gradually get harder and harder to the point that they will be ineffective.

    One of the primary reasons people do stuff to get clicks is that they are trying to influence their page rank or drive some other metric based on the bullsh*t nothing that if somebody clicks they have seen something…

    Look Google, they are continually refining search (look at what they did today with Instant) and I don’t think it is improbably that they aren’t doing everything they can to take the “game” out of SEO.

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