Words have meaning
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I'm a student of language--well, as anyone is a student of anything--thus, having the desire to learn to write, I read things in excruciating detail and pay attention to things that I really shouldn't.
I find common prose fascinating. From time to time, I read things that are published in important web sites or publications that make no sense. For example, I found the following paragraph on a Canadian Government site:
The company has been highly successful ever since. COMPANY_NAME replaced the Internet network system for the NAME District School Board, which comprises 71 schools and over 33,000 students. The solution provided by COMPANY_NAME made the new system infinitely times faster than the previous one [emphasis is mine], and at a competitive price.
I'm neither using the real company name nor the real school board, but what does "infinitely times faster" mean?
It's a bold statement, as infinite is a really big number. It either means that the original solution didn't exist; or existed in an alternate universe, where bandwidth worked backwards (instead of giving it took at infinite rates); or this company has access to internet pipes the rest of us don't. But even fiber optic connections have a finite limit (the speed of light and some packet switching degradation), so the statement is just an exaggeration.
Of course, the promise of infinitely times faster is really appealing--even if it means nothing.
Note that "infinitely times" anything works for everything. For example, this entry is "infinitely times better" than my previous entry. Prove me wrong, if not. Note that there are an infinite number of numbers between 0.0 and 0.1. For example, 0.00000004950394053...etc. No end in sight; therefore, infinitely separated by numbers.