Jan. 8, 2016, 10:15 p.m.

Well, actually...

Russell, asked the following question on Twitter:

Is it “Well, Actually”ing to point out that someone has used the word “exponential” to mean “growing significantly”?

My response:

@freakboy3742 unless the math ACTUALLY matters, I’d say “yes”.

Then we debated it a bit. What did I mean? Here are examples.

If ACTUAL exponential growth in the thing being discussed makes a real-world difference AND the people involved have some ability to IMPACT the rate of growth of the subject in question, the distinction between 'exponential' and 'significant' matters.

So, if programmers are talking about how their code is running exponentially slower or faster, the distinction b/w the two words matters. If people who work in logistics are talking about a prediction for the growth of demand or supply for a product they handle, the distinction matters.

If, on the other hand, it's two school teachers talking about how social media use is growing "exponentially", but they really mean "a lot"? Correcting them is just you "Well, actually"ing them. If it's two web developers who have NOTHING TO DO with NASCAR, noticing that a LOT of people seem to be wearing NASCAR stuff, and one says, "Wow, NASCAR's popularity seems to be growing exponentially" and the other one decides to "correct" them? The second web developer is “Well, Actually”ing. Because in that case, the distinction DOES NOT MATTER.


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