It’s too tempting to complain about people using the word solution as a lazy way to describe their product. I’m sure I will get to it soon, but today it just makes my head ache.
Instead I bring you better news: an audacious and delightful innovation in the use of the S-word from the Talk Normal archives. The email is a few years old but I treasure it, as you can see. Hewlett-Packard’s support team sent it to me when I had a problem with a printer and I was getting a little testy in emails to them because they weren’t fixing it for me.
It shows a technical support operation that so wants to bring me good news, and so can’t, that it has adopted plan B: simply redefining the word “problem” as “solution” and emailing my problem back to me to see if I’d notice. Here’s what it said:
Why stop at printer drivers? Innovation like this could, overnight, solve much bigger problems simply by redefining them in a more glass-half-full way. Let us be bold and agitate for Hewlett-Packard’s technical support department to be given control of the biggest problem (soon to be solution) of all: the struggle for world peace. It would take but a few minutes to draft an email declaring that world peace has been achieved, with a proviso that the actual absence of “war” might take some time.
Of course, in the field of world peace, this would be ridiculous. It’s about as likely as someone being given the Nobel Peace Prize not because he had directly caused any peace so far, but because he’d identified and confirmed the current lack of peace, and promised to let us all know when a fix is available.
On the plus side: I remember that HP did eventually email me a printer driver that worked. So it stands to reason we should be optimistic about the other thing.