Should you teach the world a new word?

A long time ago, I was a "book packager." I didn't actually make the package that books came in… I was a producer of books, the way someone might produce a movie. Sometimes I wrote them, too.

What a confusion this name causes. When people asked what I did, my job title gave them too much (too little) information. I should have just told non-industry people I was an author.

Innovation involves making something that hasn't been made before, and one way to signal that you're doing something new is to give it a new name. But often, the new name gets in the way of people experiencing what you have to offer.

The iPhone isn't really a phone, it's actually not a very good phone at all, but calling it a phone made it easy for people to put it into a category. The category was expanded by the behavior of the iPhone, and now "phone" means something far more than it used to. "What do you mean your phone can't tell me how far away the diner is?"  Of course, this was an absurd thing to expect from a phone not very long ago.

Mario Batali calls himself a chef, but of course he rarely if ever sets up in a kitchen and cooks meals for strangers at minimum wage. But chef is a lot easier and simpler than a whole bunch of hyphens.

Your job might be like no other one like it in the world, but that doesn't mean you need a new job title. The short version: if you can happily succeed while filling an existing niche, it's far easier than insisting that people invent a new category for you. On the other hand, if you need (and can earn) a new category, that's a shortcut to becoming a category of one.

Choose a new name when it helps you achieve your goals, not because you're worried about some truth-in-taxonomy commission giving you a hassle.

(One more example: Tweet is a new word, a risk because it might have been rejected. In the opposite direction, Facebook took a big risk with the words, 'like' and 'friend' because they redefined them to mean something new, something a bit different. It paid off, certainly, but not without some thin ice. It doesn't matter if you're right, it matters if you are understood.)