Note from 2020 me: I'd completely forgotten about this post. But I quite like it, and the finishing imagery. It's a perennial moral. Someone, somewhere is re-inventing the wheel and is about to tell you why it is defintely better than they way you do something. And naming things is still hard.

Apparently someone decided brainstorm wasn’t a politically correct term any more. One of my favourite alternative phrases for the group thinking technique is ‘Mind Jacuzzi’. However, seeing as Jacuzzi is a trademark I’m not sure that would be acceptable either, but hot tub is just a step too far into absurdity…

What am I on about here? There is a point, bear with me.

Jeremy Keith recently posted an interesting article about a new take on the ever thorny issue of responsive images. It’s a good read, and proposes a viable solution to the problem. But that’s not really what I am posting about, in the article Jeremy says –

Ultimately, I think that what the great brainstorming around fixing the problems with the img element shows…

I’m sure he wasn’t expecting that particular sentence be the bit of the piece that got people thinking, but it sparked off something that’s been in my mind for a while.

At the first New Adventures in 2011 Dan Rubin gave a very inspirational talk named The New Language of Web Design. Dan called for us to think more responsibly about choosing names for the things we produce and work on. Selecting names that don’t confuse users and clients. It was a brilliant talk, and it stimulated a lot of brain waves.

On the day I tweeted about Dan’s talk for the Q&A…

Isn’t the problem with web vocabulary that it tends to develop organically rather than specifically, making it hard to name it?

And that finally gets me to the point – the web is like a giant, organic, never ending, disconnected, brainstorming session.

An idea or a problem raises it’s head, and thousands of eager web folk all go off and solve it several different ways. They then share their ideas, they in turn spark off other ideas and solutions, and so on, and so on. Eventually a best practice emerges… and then the whole thing starts again when a new problem arises from that.

The technology and theory of the web is a fantastic, exciting, constantly moving, evolution of knowledge. That is why I think things like language are always so difficult to pin down to something that is so fluid. You only need to look at Responsive Web Design as a term to see how things get a bit fuzzy.

It also boils down to the fact that we are basically making all this stuff up as we go along. There is room to challenge and improve on everything – regardless of who is making the claim.

We’re all in the Jacuzzi together.

So hold on to that thought when someone clambers out on to the side of the Jacuzzi, teeters above everybody on the ledge, proudly displaying their snug little budgie smugglers, and proclaims…

You’re doing it all wroooooong!”