We know “Panopticonic” is not really a word.  “Panopticonic” is really a “word” I invented for my Boles Network Blog by the same name.  When I started the Panopticonic blog, “Panopticonic” appeared nowhere on the internet and that word failed to return any results in a Google search.  I do so love it so, though, when I get a Google Alert in my Inbox showing me that — “Panopticonic” — is being colloquially employed as a “real world” in a real publication like Salon Magazine.

Salon Magazine writer Andrew Leonard is our new best friend.  In his fine article published yesterday — “William Gibson jacks into Google’s cool menace” — my non-word “Panopticonic” appears twice in the article as a real word!

Here a screenshot of the first Panopticonic inception:

Here’s the proof-of-text of same Panopticonic moment [emphasis added]:

I don’t like William Gibson’s Op-Ed piece on Google in today’s New York Times merely because, barely a week after I went all Jeremy Bentham Panopticonic on the cat bin lady, he writes that “Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon prison design is a perennial metaphor in discussions of digital surveillance and data mining, but it doesn’t really suit an entity like Google.” Even though it’s kind of a put-down (perennial!), still, great minds think almost alike, right?

Here is a screenshot of the the second “Panopticonic” incarnation:

Here, too, is Panopticonic proof-of-life in text with emphasis added.  [Private Note to Andrew Leonard:  “Panopticonic” is always capitalized!  Please add that notation in your copy of the AP Stylebook, ASAP.]

Of course, to do this, Gmail has to figure out even more about us than it already knows. Who are the correspondents we judge more deserving of our attention, et cetera? The trade-off is obvious. The give and take between utility and panopticonic omniscience is as exquisitely illustrated by Priority Inbox as anything Gibson name-checks.

Oh, how I love it!

Memeingful definitions create RelationShaping moments — as words become wild changelings with a life and spirit of their own — and “Panopticonic” is now well on its way to sneaking into our daily lives on a regular basis.

Oh, and just so we’re clear on the non-origins of the etymology of “Panopticonic” as not being a word, here’s screenshot proof taken today on Merriam-Webster.com:

If Merriam-Webster isn’t good enough for you, here’s the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online edition — for a “Panopticonic” definition — searched for just this morning.  The OED online gets regularly updated:

We love you, Andrew Leonard, and please, keep up the good work and continue using “Panopticonic” in print for as long as you may live.

We also encourage you to use “Panopticonic” in your daily lexicon.  Write it.  Tweet itFacebook it.  Know it.

We thank you for your ongoing patronage and “Panopticonism.”


  1. So rich! Keep up the good work! Seeing your word like that must make you feel like a successful inventor.

Comments are closed.