Words into a paper cup, Version 2.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean neither more nor less.”

Words are one of the first thing that were noted to have a power-law distribution. I suspect that if you step inside the definitions of individual words the distributions of their assorted meanings is similarly distributed.

Some words have very focused and clear meanings. Elephant for example. Since elephants have a genome that assures that one elephant hews close to all other elephants. Other words, community for example, lack this advantage.

Joseph Gusfield’s opens his book on Community by warning the reader that words in socialogy are somewhat different from words in physics or economics. In physics a word like force is given a very fastidious meaning and then the proffession sticks to it. Sometimes a socialogist may seem to do the same thing – take a word like community or manager and treat it as if it were an elephant. That’s a good trick of the trade. It give the reader something to walk around and consider from various aspects. But it’s an illusion.

Gusfield then announces he won’t define community in his book. But he lies. Instead he writes a hundred page definition. He teases out various dialectics, relational networks, historical cartoons, and runs them across our view. He just declines to ever call this process a walk around an elephant.

Good for him.

I now return you to your regular discussion: the definition of blog.

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