1 Roman fountains were decorated with bronze or stone masks of animals or heroes.

2 The Book of Ingenious Devices, describing the works of the 1st century Greek Engineer Hero of Alexandria… described fountains which formed water into different shapes and a wind-powered water pump.

3 Under the Medicis, fountains were not just sources of water, but advertisements of the power and benevolence of the city’s rulers.

The language we use to
search for things

The language we use to search for things online has evolved to accommodate new terminology, which prior to the internet were absent in our respective lexicons. Emergent terms reference new services, enabled by the internet, that sometimes become verbs. 'Google it' or 'Skype me' for example. Of particular interest is the use of emergent terminology in the space of e-commerce. Here, when compared to their 'incumbent term' ancestors, emergent terms highlight how we adopt more efficient means to forage for information and exploit the behaviour via language.

Google Trends provides an elegant display of this process over time. It shows how the language we favour to feed our desire for information can transition rapidly from 'incumbent terms', terminology previously considered as the most efficient method to articulate and thereafter ingest relevant information to 'emergent terms', new language to improve the process.

Searching for property in the UK offers a straightforward example of the incumbent to emergent term transition.


Here, the incumbent term; 'estate agent', a compound noun with monopoly over searching for property in a given area of the UK, is superseded by 'rightmove', an emergent term used to reference a property search website founded in the year 2000. Within 5 years of launch, Rightmove and it's shared emergent term became the most popular way to search for property in the UK by people using Google.