It’s All About Class

Willa Paskin’s Slate review of Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley quotes a line from the show’s opening:

Rarely has a show had to do so little to find so much to mock. The series opens with a group of nerdy techies attending the massive soiree of a newly minted multimillionaire. Kid Rock performs as no one listens, and then the host climbs onstage and shrieks, “We’re making the world a better place … through constructing elegant hierarchies for maximum code reuse and ostensibility.

That doesn’t ring true. “Ostensibility” is not a programming term. “Extensibility” is, and goes hand-in-glove with “code reuse.” Sure enough, that’s exactly how the line actually read on the series. And sure enough, that’s exactly what they say about Scala:

Object-Oriented Meets Functional:

Have the best of both worlds. Construct elegant class hierarchies for maximum code reuse and extensibility, implement their behavior using higher-order functions. Or anything in-between.

I suppose plagiarism is one way to get the jargon right.

Hm, I’m not sure I’d call it plagiarism so much as satire or parody. Although I guess it can be both, is parody plagiarism if you don’t cite your sources?

I wonder if they got it wrong, or intentionally changed the word to be more nonsensical, ridiculous, and funny. Although, as often in the 21st century, the reality almost parodies itself already.

Either way, in this forum it’s probably worth pointing out that plagiarism and copyright violation aren’t the same thing; a given act can be either one without being the other, and plaguirism isn’t (usually?) a legal term. I find people sometimes confused on this subject, arguing something is or is not plagiarism based on how copyright law works, or vice versa.

To clarify: Silicon Valley said “extensibility” and Slate said “ostensibility.” Silicon Valley was lazy and stole a line; Slate misquoted the show. (The review has since been corrected.)

I don’t consider it plagiarism for a TV show to steal 10 words of jargon from a programming website and use it in a joke. Jeff Koons’ justification for his use of a fragement of fashion photograph in a collage painting seems to apply at least as well here: “By using an existing [piece of jargon], I also ensure a certain authenticity or veracity that enhances my commentary — it is the difference between quoting and paraphrasing — and ensure that the viewer will understand what I am referring to.”