This Could Revolutionize That

Kieran Dahl, writing for the Baffler:

Hyperbolic language is nothing new in Silicon Valley, of course. But could revolutionize presents the tech media at its worst. The phrase’s juxtaposition of two contrasting words — could implies a distinct possibility of something not happening, while revolutionize means the strongest possible version of a change to something’s fundamental nature — is manipulative. No one clicks a headline that reads, “X might make an impact on Y,” no matter how intriguing the X or culturally relevant the Y. But could revolutionize is an enabler, a gateway drug into the world of false hope, hedging, and bright-eyed optimism that cyclically drive Silicon Valley into a frenzy. When could revolutionize is used in a headline, the article automatically falls Connect Four-style into one of two categories: a tepid argument for X’s tenable but ultimately minor effect on Y, or a fawning quasi-press release.

Now that privacy and security concerns and a general wariness of Silicon Valley have reached a more mainstream audience, I have to think that could revolutionize is now cause for alarm, as in: this hyped startup might carpet bomb an industry for its own short-lived success before fizzling out in the wake of a massive controversy.