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There ought to be a word for it

Jim Banister, a self-described lover of language, seems to have stumbled upon a niche that was just waiting to be discovered. In a world where culture and technology are changing so rapidly the English language can barely keep up, Banister created a web engine, http://www.addictionary.org, to collect all those fleeting moments of brilliance when a new word trips off someone’s tongue and into popular lexicon.

It is not surprising that Banister’s site has been such a success, and that publishers would be interested in co-opting that success into book form, the first result being "Addictionary: Brave New Words" (Abrams Image, September 2008). An early-adopter by nature, Banister has been exploring the edges of the Internet envelope since the World Wide Web’s inception.

Like many who helped to pioneer the Internet, Banister got his start in the defense industry. Working in Redondo Beach, Calif. Banister was doing advanced optical research which, as the technology became available, morphed into computer animation.

In the early 1990s as the Internet and email began to infiltrate American culture, Banister shifted his focus from the defense industry to the film industry. In 1994, thanks to his early experience with visual computing and the Internet, he said, he was drafted by the famous movie-maker Steven Spielberg to help create the Shoah project, a massive effort to document the experiences of the remaining survivors of the Holocaust. That project led to a long-term relationship with Warner Bros., where Banister helped take the then world’s largest studio into the realm of the Internet.

But Banister became restless with life in Los Angeles and longed to work in a place more in keeping with his lifestyle. After a two-year "walkabout" around the world, Banister settled on Park City.

"It felt like a small town, but sophisticated," he said.

Banister has since set up shop on Park Avenue in Park City. He is a cofounder of SpectrumDNA, a digital studio developing social media applications for the Web and mobile wireless. The company defines its mission this way on its company Web site: "A Studio-Incubator for Social Media Enterprises and Engines of Engagement."

It sounds complicated but The Addictionary is a perfect, easily understandable example of that they are talking about.

Let’s say you and a friend come up with a word that makes you and everyone at your office LOL. Log on to http://www.addictionary.org , register and take credit for your brilliance. While you are there, take a shot at any number of TOBAW challenges, check out the word of the day and rate a few of the other clever entries on the site. You might find yourself in the next edition of The Addictionary book.

In fact, Banister and company have extended The Addictionary engine so that they can offer "community specific" versions of the web engine, and brand extensions of those versions, like books, calendars and greeting cards.

"There are nearly eighty million dog owners out there," he says, "And they have a language and community all their own. I know. I’m one of them!"

To that end Banister has licensed a handful of specific entities, like Comedy Central and the Tennis Channel, to operate their own themed Addictionaries, and have several more in the pipeline.

The first of the book series, released last month, is now available at Dolly’s bookstore, 510 Main Street, and covers a variety of topics from Pubs and Clubs to Sports and Family. Check it out, you are sure to become addicted.

A few samples from "The Addictionary"

  • dataclysm – A catastrophic event causing a large loss of computer data
  • connectile dysfunction – a sudden loss of Internet access resulting in disappointment and anxiety
  • beervana – a blissful state of being oblivious to pain reached through copious consumption of beer.
  • shogul – To ski moguls with the precision and vigor of a feudal Japanese governor
  • zenvy – The feeling one gets when meeting someone more spiritual than oneself

    TOBAW

    "There Ought To Be A Word"

    Jim Banister created this TOBAW contest especially for readers of The Park Record.

    Here’s the definition for a word that really should be in the dictionary:

    " that anticipatory feeling one gets when summer’s clearly over and we’re just waiting for winter to begin-hankering for that first snowfall."

    Got a word for it? Want to share it? Log on to http://www.addictionary.org/browse/tobawdetail/133/?index=0 and enter your suggestion. The Park Record will print the responses and then post a poll to pick the best one.


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