Thursday, January 31, 2008

Citing -source(s)

Like it or not, to source is a verb that's been around a long time. The OED lists the verb, in its sense of "to obtain from a specified source," with a first cite of 1660.[1] In its direct, current usage, cites in the OED start at 1960.

From there we move along and develop to outsource, which per the OED and RHD emerged in the late 70s.[2]

Paul McFedries (aka reports the term intersource was coined probably in the late 90s, modeled on on outsourcing: "Intersource: To farm out work by creating a joint venture with an outside provider or manufacturer." (No OED reference.) Along a similar model, I guess, Webster's lists (without a date) to insource as "to keep within a corporation tasks and projects that were previously outsourced." To un-outsource, I guess.

More? You bet:

Downsourcing. Various meanings; most common is to pass work off to an entity that's smaller or less experienced:

  • "It's a new buzzword, but for a very old idea. Cutting out the middleman." (#)
  • "What these companies hope to do is engage in a constant process of what I call downsourcing, by sloughing off their older, my highly paid employees and replacing them with fresh-faced college grads eager to pay their dues -- at a much lower price." [#]
  • "Then there's the downsourcing of mainline customer service at many mid-size airports to some entities that are semi-incompetent. It is a cost saving that's likely one of the reasons that consumers want revenge." [#]
Upsourcing. Not sure I can make clear sense of the ways in which this term is being used. Have a look yourself using this search.

So, it's the -source hokey-pokey: in, out, all about. We keep finding new prepositions to whack onto the -source.

But that is not all. Steve Sampson wrote recently about crowdsourcing, where he quotes Wikipedia: "Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task, refine an algorithm or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data (see also citizen science)." Examples of crowdsourcing that Sampson mentions are,

Where up to now we created directional (locational) locutions, crowdsourcing drops direction and going right to the source. (So to speak.)

More? Maybe. Another term built on this pattern is homesourcing (aka homeshoring), defined (Wikipedia again) as "The transfer of service industry employment from offices to home-based employees with appropriate telephone and Internet facilities". Here's an interesting note on how JetBlue uses homesourcing for its reservation system. I found one similar reference to housesourcing ("This term refers to a hot trend of hiring people who work from their home .for instance, independent contractors employs people to handle customer service calls from their home ,which saves time and money for both employers and employees.") Note that this definition is from a somewhat dubious source (haha), namely a Web site in Chinese (!).

In the world of computers, source is short for source code, which is the language in which programs are written, to then be compiled into object code. With the advent of community-supported software, we now have open-source (free, community supported) and closed-source (commerical) software.[3] Not surprisingly, we have verb forms, e.g. "Open sourcing of VMS".

So we've got -sources all over the place! Where else? What new terms can we come up with?

[1] Their example is: "Like a bankroute or shipe lost on the continent by the furie of sourcinge waves," which doesn't seem to me to have quite the same sense.

[2] The citations from the 1960s in the OED for to source actually anticipate the development of to outsource, check it out: "1960 Wall St. Jrnl. 15 Mar. 14/5 There is a growing tendency toward foreign ‘sourcing’, the purchase or production of finished goods or components abroad."

[3] These definitions for open- and closed-source are simplistic, I realize.

1 comment:

lonmowerman said...

Interesting site; more depth about wordplay than I expected. Thanks for commenting on my blog too. You got the detail right - mixtapers around the world unite!