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September 13, 2004

"Feedback" Feedback

An interesting, but not necessarily dispositive, question has been posed in the comments.

Jag writes:

The Oxford English dictionary cites the first use of the word 'feedback' in a non-scientific context in 1971, in a rock magazine.

... Can Killian's widow or son comment on his use of that term before he died in the early 80s?

My recollection is that "feedback" didn't gain popular usage until the advent of the technological era...the late 80s at the earliest....

[He wrote "did gain popular usage," but I corrected it, as he plainly intended "didn't."]

BR notes:

Hm, I see it there in the 18 Aug 73 forgery, the word "feedback." Are there any military commenters who would know if that was a regular service term then? I recall it in the context of Jimmy Hendrix's amplified guitar feedback, but not in the context of office administration. Wow, we could have a joint army of millions of us searching "the stylometrics way" - putting a new twist on an old method, using the internet.

I don't know, obviously. Do any informed parties care to comment?

I don't know how fruitful this would end up being either way because Jag already tells us that the OED has a 1971 citation of a non-scientific use of the term feedback. It could be that Killian was just an early adopter of the phrase before it gained wider currency. So, at best, we could probably only say that it would be unlikely that Killian would use the term, but that's hardly going to convince the likes of Dan Rather.

It seems more interesting that "distributed intelligence" can quickly spot and resolve such issues.

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:31 PM

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