The Departures Modern Glossary July 2011

Bendik Kaltenborn

Departures defines the terms that define us now.

Content Farm

A company that generates Internet articles, the content of which is dictated by the words and phrases that are most commonly searched online

Content farms provide the not-quite-illicit service of search-engine optimization (SEO)—boosting a site’s positioning in Google’s search results. But Google recently announced changes to its search algorithm that should lead to a reduction in the number of results from content farms.


To arrange for goods and/or services to be provided by a company’s own employees, as opposed to outsourcing. Also, doing the work that has been outsourced by another company

Neither “insourcing” nor “outsourcing” is terribly new (both date from the late 1970s), yet the fact that we are so much more familiar with “outsourcing” is an indication of how an economic climate and current events can affect the fortunes of a word.

Encore Career

A second career, especially one with greater social impact and that provides more personal meaning

The term “encore career” sounds as though it might be a miserable result of unknowingly investing in a Ponzi scheme or suffering significant losses to one’s 401(k), and having to return to the workforce after retirement. Happily, the phrase refers to a far more optimistic scenario: the decision to take up a more socially relevant and personally uplifting line of work. The term appears to have originated in the mid-2000s and has become increasingly popular as greater numbers of people have embraced the concept. The decision by Bill Gates to devote more time to his charitable foundation than to Microsoft is often cited as a prime example.


The tendency of simple things to become increasingly complex. Also, the effective application of a simple interface to a complex system

A blend of “simple” and “complexity,” “simplexity” first appeared around 1849 as a synonym for “simplicity,” a usage that did not last long, and has obscure applications in math and chemistry. The above definitions gained popularity after the publication of Simplexity, science writer Jeffrey Kluger’s 2008 book on the subject.


The continuous broadcasting of every aspect of one’s life, generally through some form of digital media

“Lifecasting” is the latest in a long line of combined forms that end with “-cast,” such as “broadcast,” “sportscast” and “podcast.” “Cast” comes from an Old Norse word meaning “to throw,” which may give some comfort to those of us who want to throw their hands up in disgust at what most people over a certain age would likely consider to be “oversharing” or “TMI” (too much information).