Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Word of the day

Today's word is electronic card. This is, you would think, a clearly and obviously oxymoronic term. "Card" describes a type of stiff paper which can be used for a variety of purposes, such as conveying a tasteful greeting, being rigid enough to be stood up on a mantlepiece, and incorporating sufficient space to write a few appropriate words somewhat short of a letter. Cards are also slightly cheaper to send, at about $1.45 for a reasonable quality card and a stamp. An electronic card can do none of these things, and the term therefore qualifies as an oxymoron - one term negates the other. Most electronic cards are not tasteful, not rigid, and not writeable.

Although what we really need is a new term for an electronic card, and a different function, we are likely to have to live with the oxymoronic term we now have. Here is a
charming card from the University of Queensland Library which although called an electronic card, does something quite different to the things a card can do.

It is easy to be taken in by a statement that the money which would have been spent on cards has been donated to a charity. For a university library sending out, say, 70 cards, this amounts to $101.50. Nice electronic cards cost a lot more to create - perhaps a programmer and/or software developer for a day or so, at least. I did say a nice card.

Happy new year, too.


trr said...

Perhaps the term 'e-greetings' is more suitable for the web. I presume the term came from the website of same name.

Unfortunately e-cards are not so well received as they once were since spammers or viruses have begun sending emails posing as e-greetings or e-cards from people you have never met.

Keith said...

I'm glad that you liked the UQ card. Your calculations are, perhaps, a little astray - we replaced something in the order of 1,000 print cards with our e-version. It didn't take a day of developer's time, but did allow us to save on the costs of print, postage and staff time signing, addressing and franking all of them. Hopefully we have done something for the environment as well!