I was inspired early on in the first Rosenfeld and Morville reading by a concept I’d not heard of before – synonym rings. By linking all synonyms around, we can be sure that user searches are caught, no matter what verbage is use. cool! Sounds useful.
But this got me to thinking of the dynamic and responsive power of the web, and I wondered what a further use of this concept might be – consider this, the responsive version.
People’s dialects are different. To many people, one word might mean another, or some phrase might be more interesting, exact, or cogent for a particular person. Wouldn’t then the ultimate use of a site’s vocabulary then be to tailor it to each individual person? Using some sort of Synonym Ring, we could gather data on language use, say from social media, and hide that within the user’s browser. Then, on reaching a site, the site judges the best match from a number of possible choices. Maybe for one person the button reads “Shop,” for another, it says “Store,” and for another it says “Buy here.” Small examples, but taken to the extreme, they could be powerful.
Could this cut out jargon for those un-interested, but leave it in for those in the know? Would this bring people together across a divide created by knowledge and expertise, or divide further? What if it was applied to all content, even user created? Does everything become more understandable, and interesting, or do we tailor a sort of language-bubble, only projecting what people already know, and already want to see?
A messy situation to be sure, but one with some interesting prospects.