World’s longest palindrome

“Bullfighter” app destroys corporate jargon

Here at Collision Detection, we try to implement blogging solutions in a scalable, extensible fashion, to maximize audience buy-in and provide carry-through with continuous quality improvement, while leveraging our core competencies as an enterprise player in the many-to-many publishing space.

Sadly, that last sentence may not even qualify as parody. Go to almost any corporate web site, and you’ll see examples of writing equally as turgid and gnarly.

But hope has arrived, from the consultancy Deloitte and Touche! They just released Bullfighter, an app that scans through Microsoft Word and Powerpoint documents … and eliminates buzzwords. You can download it here for free, but it’s also worth perusing the FAQ; it’s a lovely example of straight-talking itself. Some excerpts:

Q: What applications can use Bullfighter?
Bullfighter works with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint 2000 and XP. It doesn’t work with Office 97 or earlier. We tried it. There were small explosions and our entire drives were wiped out instantly.

Q: Is there any science behind Bullfighter, or did someone just come with this idea at a bar somewhere? How can I learn more?
Yes. The Flesch Reading Ease score is one of the accepted standards for measuring the demands placed on a reader, and the late Dr. Rudolf Flesch is still regarded as an important figure in the field of readability. His book, “How to Write, Speak and Think More Effectively” (Signet, 1960), is an excellent survey of his work. If you want to be a great communicator, we recommend an appointment with Dr. Flesch. Don’t bother checking - your medical benefits don’t cover visits with deceased linguists.

Q: So you didn’t use any research later than 1960 for this?
A: Right. Remember, we can stop answering FAQs anytime we want to.

Q: Does Deloitte own the Bullfighter name?
Yes. We registered it, at least. The paperwork was started last year. Don’t ask.

Of course, as one observer quoted in the today’s New York Times points out, it’s a touch ironic for Deloitte and Touche — a corporate consultancy — to be offering this remedy, since they were among those reponsible for unleashing this tidal wave of linguistic sludge on the world in the 90s. But possibly this is the hormesis of the business world: Those who try to kill us can also make us stronger.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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