Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Word of the day

Today's word is dogfooding, and thank you to Gary for the suggestion. This is a genuine word, in dictionaries and everything, believe me. It derives from the expression "to eat ones own dogfood", and is a shorthand verb deriving from that expression and meaning the same. The Urban Dictionary defines the term concisely as "using your own product."

According to Microsoft and the Wikipedia, the term was used at Microsoft twenty years ago. Microsoft suggests that dogfooding the product is integral to the Microsoft culture. In a university, I guess a dogfooder (if that is the noun) would study at the institution which employed him.

The definitions and usage of dogfooding produce one puzzle. One would think that the appropriate use of one's own dogfood would be to feed it to a dog, not eat it. But the metaphor (for such it is) in use at Microsoft these past twenty years implies that the product is not fed to an appropriate consumer (a dog) but eaten by a person. Curious.

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