Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

When You Say "Curate", I Hear "Punch Me in the Throat"

People. Hear me. Our language — our precious lexicon, our dominant means of communicating basic ideas — is under siege.

Marketers and techno-frauds crawl about the internet, typing words that act like termites to our common diction, worming through accepted rules with vacuous arbitrariness. The misuse, the egocentric twisting of our patterns, the abominations, the vandalization of common, decent, upstanding, blue-collar words that have done their job for decades without the suffocating sparkle paste of marketesing word hacks.

Listening to political speeches, reading corporate marketing material and watching Web two-point-duh startup CEOs yammer on is the parlance equivalent of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

Some examples to keep you up at night:

  • I do not want to friend you. I may like something, but I friend nothing. I will connect, comment, vote, follow, link, save, pin, watch, post, tag and otherwise verb the shit out of your shit, but I will not friend it. (Nor will I favorite it.)
  • Anyone who tries to solution a problem needs to have their brain walk hot coals. Anyone who tries to solutioneer anything deserves to walk the plank. From a spaceship. Orbiting a star as it goes supernova.
  • Coincidentally, a lot of people mix up “coincidence” and “ironic”. Ironically, they don’t realize their mistake. I would say Alanis Morissette deserves Medieval punishment for screwing this up in a song ironically called “Ironic” that sold 33 million records in the 90s, but she was dumped by Dave Coulier so I think the cosmic scales of justice are even on that one.
  • If you’re going to headache over that problem, let me get some aspirin so it will hurt less after we collectively slog your cerebellum.
  • Instead of whiteboarding or blue-skying ideas, you could shut the fuck up and write something down in an attempt to demonstrate your worth to whoever got suckered into giving you a paycheck. Oh sorry, I didn’t see you were still in the middle of Bejeweled.
  • It’s called a project timeline, not a workback. Plan on fixing that. I’m sure you’re agile.
  • I have no idea what daypart it is, but I will happily tell you what time it is.
  • Agnostic is almost a lost cause. It is not, and never was, a proper synonym for “neutral”. But stupid people keep saying stupid things like “my code is platform agnostic”, which I interpret as “my code does not believe in the higher power that is the platform deity”. (It is important to utterly ignore’s definition of this word, which stupidly acknowledges this stupid trend as valid. is stupid.)
  • I feel bad for people who literally drive themselves crazy, or who literally don’t give a shit, or who literally work their ass off, or who literally think the word “literally” is yummy superlative batter with which they can deep fry their tasteless expressions.
  • If you use the word “curate” as a replacement for “collecting junk” or “listing stuff” or “I put three links together on a website and I am an elitist douche”, I wonder if you bothered to even build windows in your ivory tower.

This is not literally the most annoying thing you’ve ever read. Unless it is. In which case, I should win an award. (Literally.)

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commentary + criticism


wrote the following on Thursday August 2, 2012

Ah Kevin. That is, in the words of Brian Regan, the Epitome of Hyperbole. I’m guilty of the agnostic one myself. No more though. In honor of you, I think I’ll say I’m code-swedish.

Bat Dick

wrote the following on Monday August 6, 2012’s definition of ‘agnostic’ is fine and doesn’t differ much from any other dictionary site. An agnostic person doesn’t assert anything. Look at the word origin: ‘a’ – “un” or “non”; ‘gnostos’ – “known.” The only reason I comment is because people are misusing the word all the time to refer to a position of disbelief, which is incorrect. All this being said, it seems also incorrect—and silly—to use the word in that manner with regard to computer programming. Someone chose the wrong word from the thesaurus…


wrote the following on Wednesday August 8, 2012

Any chance you could not use the word rape like that? It has a literal meaning too, and that can’t be done to words.


wrote the following on Wednesday August 8, 2012

Yet in your rant you abuse the word “rape”.

Kevin Potts

wrote the following on Wednesday August 8, 2012

@saoili / @mollydot — Your point is well-taken. In my binge of hyperbole, I committed one of the sins that I despise most: abusing a word that has real and visceral meaning. I’ve removed it. Please consider it a lesson learned on my end.


wrote the following on Wednesday August 8, 2012

A good taste of this post has been criticized by whom the language used here sounds brutal. To these people: don’t be afraid of saying something different than others and express yourself in every detail.
Thanks for sharing this great post! I am really impressed in a way it is written I adore the author for such thoughts!


wrote the following on Saturday September 22, 2012

Just stumbled upon this post. Made me chuckle.

My pet hate is the deterioration of grammar. For instance:

“I feel sorry for people … who work their ass off”. It should be “asses”.

And “whoever got suckered” should be “whomever got suckered”.