Daily Archives: July 7, 2008

Charlene Li calls it like it is

I’ve been reading Groundswell (along with 3 or 4 other books simultaneously, which probably isn’t healthy) and while it definitely lends itself to skimming in parts, it’s a solid, useful book and I’ve been thinking of buying it in bulk to leave around the office. I was shocked, and then not, to hear that the author, Charlene Li, who has also been a speaker at Web 2.0 Expo, is leaving her employer.

Forrester has bent over backwards to be accommodating and flexible, but in the end, I have decided that I need to have greater control over how I allocate my time between work and family. As any working parent knows, there’s no such thing as balance – only a series of compromises on both the work and home front.

After my crisis about the Europe trip (which went well, by the way, despite it’s brevity) I’ve been domestically inclined. I’ve gone from blogging quite a bit on the work blog in the spring, to a short flurry of posts here, to nothing in the past weeks. Not that work has shrunk its footprint in my life; there’s been plenty going on with putting the finishing touches on our New York event, planning for Europe in October, and thinking ahead to 09…yes, the planning starts now, or at least planning for the planning. But with Chris pulling back-to-back all-nighters for weeks now, it’s just me on the homestead, so some focus is required.  The “balance” shifts.

Anyway, good for you, Charlene.  You have options.  You’re using them.  I bet whatever you do next will be just as significant and useful as your recent achievements, and now you’ll be in the drivers seat.  I’ll take inspiration not only from your insights into the business potential of social technologies but also from your frank assessment that the search for balance is futile.

Welcome mondegreen

When I first moved to San Francisco, my roommate Wey Wey, who has the most beautiful voice ever, would play guitar and sing in our Mission apartment.  Her singing was enchanting and I always felt totally blessed to be near her, but it was also unintentionally hysterical when she would mangle the words, especially to REM songs.  (I mangle the words to songs all the time too, but it’s funnier when someone else does it).  Now there’s a word for those crazy mishearings: a mondegreen.  It’s a brand new word, or at least officially. The Merriam-Webster folks included it for the first time in their 2008 edition.

As John Murrell over at GMSV says, we all need to do our part for this newbie noun.  I’m thinking it’s going to be a bit of a challenge to work it into casual conversation, so I vote instead for submitting your favorite mondegreen to the Merriam-Webster folks for their collection.  I’d put Wey Wey’s in for her, except I can’t remember any of them.  I realized recently (when I put my finger on a rotary dial phone) that I still remember my 4th grade best friend’s phone number (thanks, that’s really helpful), but I can’t recall the words that split my sides in the early nineties.

I sound old before my time, and let me make that impression worse by being even more nostalgic.  As a word, mondegreen has arrived a bit late.  The days when you learned the words to your favorite songs completely wrong are probably largely gone.  Now we just look them up on the web.  Yes, I realize people can still mishear lyrics and other spoken words, but the giant trove of absurd misquotes are the result of not being able to understand what the singer was saying, and just deciding to fill in the blanks, whether you knew it or not.  I think the instant availability of the correct data has trained us not to bother coming up with alternatives; if it’s vague, just check it.  Mondegreens: get ‘em while you can.