There are several words I’d ban should anyone have the wisdom to make me king of the world. First would be leverage. It isn’t that I’ve got anything against old words taking on new forms; I don’t even have any conscientious objections to nouns being used as verbs. What I hate are trendy marketing terms that everyone starts using as a lazy shorthand.


Marketing folk are beginning to become a little self-aware when it comes to leverage, with my pet hate of “leverage the platform” on the verge of extinction. But just like the bobble in the carpet that you try to flatten only for a new one to appear, I’m now being plagued by another: experience.

I was in a press briefing the other day where this previously benign word was used a good 20 times. And, much as I hate to tempt fate, you only need to glance around to realise this is merely the beginning: a plague of experiences is about to befall us.

Take TV programmes. It used to be the case that production companies made TV programmes (long, long ago, the BBC even made them), but now we’re not just meant to watch the damn things: no, we’re meant to go online, explore the Flash creations based around them, print off “extras”, literally buy the T-shirt.

This makes sense for some shows. My six-year-old undoubtedly gets a huge amount from the CBBC website, whether he’s looking at the MI High quiz or the Sarah Jane Adventures page. And my three-year-old has probably printed off around a hundred different colouring pages from the CBeebies site.

But this is now inveigling its way into adult shows (no, not that type of adult show), and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking we’re on the slippery slope to media overload. Take something as innocent as the news. This was once the bastion of besuited gentlemen of a certain age, but Natasha Kaplinsky’s high-profile move to Channel 5 has been surrounded by a barrage of not only publicity but also extra-programme activities: we can read the news team’s blogs, text in with our thoughts, view “bonus” video. In short, the news isn’t the news anymore: it’s an interactive and terribly Web 2.0 experience.

And now Microsoft is keen to turn search into an experience. Microsoft’s theory/research/belief, call it what you will, is that we’re secretly frustrated by search – and not just the “we” of the greater internet population, but even the likes of us PC Pro readers and writers who recite Boolean expressions in our sleep.

To improve this experience, Microsoft plans to wrap all the relevant gubbins around our search results. So if you enter the search term, “Indian restaurant Princes Street” it won’t just bring up a list of restaurants in Edinburgh, but possibly a map with the restaurants highlighted, complete with customer ratings and sample menus.

I’m still trying to work out if that’s what I want. For me, Google works exceptionally well, although I accept that the search doesn’t bring up the exact links I’m after all the time. But I know enough to sharpen the search with more precise terms, to choose specific sites for Google to search through (“ laptops”, for instance) and to get rid of terms I definitely don’t want by simple virtue of the minus sign.

I suppose it boils down to one thing: I like to be in control, and if a search engine is trying to second-guess the “experience” I’m seeking, I’ll end up muttering rude words under my breath.

Experience isn’t just being limited to search, either. Buy one of the top-end offerings in our graphics cards Labs and you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the Crysis experience – “our vision for Crysis has always been to create the most stunning, immersive FPS experience ever,” to quote Cevat Yerli, CEO of Crytek. Don’t you understand, Cevat? It’s a game! You’re playing a game!

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