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Schmooze(TM) or die

Being a sickly child, I excelled in only one sport as a teenager--schmoozing. Etymologically speaking, it's my favorite verb, coming from the Hebrew shemuoth, for news or rumor. I remember getting my first scoop (vandalism of a history teacher's toupee) for the Attrition Valley High Gazette after schmoozing the principal for the names of the perps. Of course, schmoozing doesn't always protect a 12-year-old from getting sucker-punched at the bus stop or receiving a wedgie, but it doesn't hurt.

Being a sickly child, I excelled in only one sport as a teenager--schmoozing. Etymologically speaking, it's my favorite verb, coming from the Hebrew shemuoth, for news or rumor. I remember getting my first scoop (vandalism of a history teacher's toupee) for the Attrition Valley High Gazette after schmoozing the principal for the names of the perps. Of course, schmoozing doesn't always protect a 12-year-old from getting sucker-punched at the bus stop or receiving a wedgie, but it doesn't hurt.

It does hurt, though, to see someone try to shamelessly appropriate one of my favorite words for themselves. This week, one of my overworked and underpaid CNET colleagues received an oh-so-polite cease-and-desist email from someone claiming to have trademarked the word "schmoozefest," a close linguistic relative of schmooze. One of the owners of the trademark is high-tech consultant and pundit Christine Comaford.

Like any self-respecting member of the digerati, Comaford has also registered the domain name Schmoozefest.com. Email to Comaford was not returned so I can only speculate on what her plans are for the domain name. A chat site for the cyberelite? An online cocktail lounge for the socially challenged?

Apparently, Comaford isn't the only one to smell opportunity in online schmoozing. Oft-quoted analyst and market seer Gary Arlen has registered Schmooze.com. Let the schmoozing begin.

For the schmooze-deprived, online city guides like Sidewalk and CitySearch can tell you where the action is. No stranger to action, media mogul Si Newhouse is apparently mulling a plan to develop a string of online city guides himself. Newhouse has already commenced recruiting staff for a Portland, Oregon, city guide. Portland is already a Newhouse newspaper town (the Portland Oregonian) so expect guides to follow in other Newhouse territories.

I hope Newhouse has better luck with city guides than Netscape has had with systems integration. The Mozilla thrillas have promised to beef up their consulting, and even stole an IBMer to whip the company's services organization into shape. Good thing. I hear the company badly fouled up an intranet project it was doing for market researcher Gartner Group. The mess was bad enough that Gartner honchos sent a letter to Jim Barksdale demanding action. I demand action from you. Email me me your rumors, and I'll schmooze you back.