Steve Ballmer Language Analysis: He's A "People" Person Too

ballmer wordcloud

Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer and Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie just finished speaking at the All Things D D8 conference. In the spirit of fair comparison, we did some thinking about their language, just as we did for Steve Jobs before.

Ballmer's known to be an ebullient and emotionally charged speaker, with a larger-than-life personality--he's spoken at All Things D events before. Ray Ozzie hasn't, and he's a bit more mysterious--he was clearly brought into the debate to cover the technical aspects of things that Ballmer may slip up on (as we've seen several times in the past, when MS has had to retract overly enthusiastic, and sometimes just plain wrong, statements made by Ballmer to the press).

So what did these two veritable techno-gurus have to say? They had to respond to questions from the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, which definitely steered the general trends in their responses. But when you ditch all the filler words, edit out Walt's comments and questions from the liveblog of the interview, and pop it into Wordle.net's engine ... what do we learn? That Ray and Steve are, like the other Steve, both into "people." This is surprising, because who'd've thought that tech behemoth (and sometimes evil monopolist) Microsoft had people who were as much "people people" as famously human Steve Jobs at the helm? The words "want" and "going" are prominent too, indicating that MS wants to do what it's customers want, and thinks about the future a lot.

The two stand-out words are "devices" and "different," however. Neither word is one that Jobs used much, but MS clearly feels the need to talk about the physicality of its products and to differentiate them from their increasingly powerful market competitors (which may be why the term "Windows" is seen a lot in the text too). And whereas words like "well," "great," and "really" were significant in Job's phrases, these feel-good terms weren't as prominent in MS's executive chatter, which tends more to the typical corporate smooth-talking that maybe one would expect from a CEO and chief software wiz of a giant tech company.

Apple fans will, undoubtedly, be amused that the words "think" and "different" also appeared to have about the same level of significance in the MS executive's answers. Maybe this is a sign that a certain, ahem, competitor's famous marketing campaign had more of an impact at a subliminal level than anyone ever thought.

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1 Comments

  • George Kyaw Naing

    (1) Great! thanks you for a new perspective into the souls of the corporate titans.

    (2)
    "want" and "going"
    "devices" and "different,"
    "think" and "different"

    Is that all?
    Linguistic analysis (syntatic or semantic or discourse analysis or speech acts or conversation analysis or pragmatics ) can go a lot deeper than this. I should know.

    Even words analysis can go deeper than what is given here. What is their context, co-text, colocations, connotations, para-syntatic chains etc?

    george kyaw naing

    http://ethicminds.blogspot.com...