Why On Earth Would You Call It “The Blog”?

That’s the question I was asked while our KNOPP Studios website was in development. As I was running the design past some friends whose opinions I respect, one of them suggested that referring to this weekly collection of thoughts and ideas as “The Blog” would diminish its image. After all, they said, there are millions of blogs out there. Mommy blogs. Travel blogs. DIY blogs. Music blogs. Blogs about blogging. Blogs about ear wax (and let me do you a favor right now, do not Google that one). Blogs often, though certainly not exclusively, tend to be put together by people without a platform. People who simply want to be heard. People whose desire to express themselves far exceeds the availability of outlets where those expressions would be welcomed.

At least, that was their take on the baggage that comes along with the word “blog”.

Here’s why I decided that our company would ignore that advice, and call our series of writings, “The Blog”.

I worked with a client once who had one of those nightclubs where people go when they want to get up on stage and sing along with a music track to a popular song, where the original vocals have been removed. You know what that’s called, right? For the purposes of this conversation, do me a favor, and go ahead and just say it. Even if you say it quietly to yourself.

Right. There’s about a 99.999% The voice in YOUR head said, “a karaoke bar”. What’s the word again? Karaoke.

Well… good luck getting that word to fly with this particular client. They insisted on what they called “the correct” pronunciation, which they say is more like ‘kad – OH – kay”. They even had an exhaustive explanation of their frustrations with ignorant Americans – and by the way, they were both born in Connecticut to some of the whitest families you’ll ever run into – ignorant Americans who were dumbing down the pronunciation and polluting the art form.

Well… if you still want to refer to it as an “art form” when Reggie from Accounting gets up after six shots of tequila and sings “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, that’s really up to you. Who am I to quibble? But this client wanted to do the commercial themselves, and wanted to make sure to repeat the correct pronunciation a few times in the spot, “kad – OH – kay”.

This was another of the times that I’m glad the people who taught me how to write copy also taught me that whoever came up with the line, “the customer is always right”… was an idiot.

The customer signs the check. That only makes them right if one of two things is true: 1) they actually are right, or 2) you’re more interested in the check than in actually serving your client by being an expert in your field.

I used to work with a guy at an oldies radio station who insisted that the trumpet player who did the song “What A Wonderful World” should be referred to on the air as Louis Armstrong. Louis, and not Louie. Among the arguments he employed to defend that position was that “Louie” carried with it a term of familiarity that would be inappropriate to apply to someone of Satchmo’s iconic status. And that by spelling it with an “S” at the end and not an “E”, he was sending a clear signal about how he wanted to be addressed.

…except that everyone who ever called him by name in a song, whether it was Ella, Frank or whoever else… his musical friends, referred to him as “Louie”. He even recorded a song in the 30s called “Laughin’ Louie.” The only time “Louis” ever comes up in song is when Satchmo himself makes the reference in “Hello Dolly”. But in a duet version with Sinatra, Frank refers to himself as “Francis”, clearly indicating that like “Louis”, it was a formal name that basically only got used on driver’s licenses and such.

But there’s a more important reason to continue calling him “Louie” instead of “Louis”. And that is this: Call him “Louie” because that’s what almost everybody calls him.

I have a couple more examples of this, and then I’ll get to the point. This one’s also from the music world – you remember BTO, the rock band who did the anthemic “Takin’ Care Of Business” that would later be adopted by office supply companies and goodness knows who else in their commercials? The leader of BTO is named Randy Bachman. Except that nobody pronounces it Backman. Everybody looks at how Randy’s last name is spelled, “B-A-C-H-M-A-N”, they see the “B-A-C-H” part, think of Bach the composer, and suddenly he’s Randy Bachman. As the story goes, Randy got so tired of correcting people on the pronunciation, he stopped. He just started accepting “Bachman”, “Backman”, whatever you wanted. Because correcting everyone was a losing battle.

Staying with Canadian things for a second, the metric system in Canada gives rise to an example that I only just recently gave up fighting for myself. In the metric system, everything is based on multiples of ten, and round numbers. Like temperature. Where in Fahrenheit, the freezing point of water is the seemingly arbitrary 32 degrees, the metric folks decided that on the Celcius scale, the freezing point of water should be zero. Makes sense. Below zero, and it’s not water anymore, it’s ice. Gets easier on the temperature thing, too. Know what the boiling point of water is, in Celcius? A hundred. So the minimum where it can still be called water is zero, and the maximum is 100. Almost like a percentage. Off the top of your head, do you even know what the boiling point of water is in Fahrenheit? It’s like Pi or something. I don’t know.

Distance in metric is similarly easy. Let’s start with the base unit of measuring distance, the meter. A meter, for the uninitiated, is about a yard. 0.9114 meters, to be exact. But here’s where it gets fun. With the old system, the smallest commonly used measurement is the inch. How many inches in a yard? Why, 36 of course. In metric, it’s the centimeter. From the Latin, it’s CENTI, or one one hundredth of, and METER. So there are a hundred centimeters in a meter. If you want to get smaller, there’s the millimeter. 10 millimeters in a centimeter, by the way. And if you want to get bigger, then we get into the unit for one thousand meters, or the kilometer. KILO meaning one thousand, and yes, METER.

But guess what?

I bet you’ve heard tons of people butcher that pronunciation, and use the word “kill-AWE-mitt-ur” instead. Which is, as I’ve painstakingly laid out, wrong. If it was “kill-AWE-mtt-ur”, it would also have to be “sen-TIM-mitt-urs”. And “mil-LIM-mitt-urs”. Except it isn’t, because people pronounce those words correctly.

But everyone from Mr. Sulu on Star Trek to the little voice in my Google Maps navigator app, uses that same incorrect pronunciation. And it’s infuriating, because it’s not something that’s open to interpretation, like the Louie vs Louis debate. “Kill-AWE-mitt-ur” is wrong. Incorrect. Made-up word.

However, much to the joy of the long-suffering Mrs. Hedley, I’ve given up getting up from my front porch rocking chair and shaking a cane at passers-by and yelling “KILL-uh-mee-tur” at them.


Uphill battle, Mr. Bachman. Uphill losing battle. And so, a giant waste of time to fight it. Much like saying anything other than “carry-OH-kee”. Because when you insist on doing it differently than everyone else does – especially in a spoken word advertisement – you don’t sound like the smartest kid in the room. You sound like you’ve mispronounced it, and there’s a disconnect in the mind of the listener while they lose focus on your message and focus instead on the fact that you don’t know how to say stuff.

All that, to explain why I decided that the part of our website that holds these thoughts, and others like them, would be called “The Blog”. Because everyone knows what a blog is. It’s a collection of thoughts, sometimes other media elements like photos or audio clips, held together by the common thread of a common author – at least, in this case. Could I have used other words instead, that might have implied more gravitas for some readers? Something like “column”, or “thoughts”, or “missives”? Sure. But everybody knows what a blog is. Especially people on the Internet. You click on a link that says “The Blog”, you know exactly what you’re going to get.

Unless it’s ear wax.

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