Alright Bob, I'm open to suggestions on how to get millions of academics and
scientists worldwide to change a core term of the profession to a more
politically correct one (perhaps we should ask some feminists for advice?).
Seriously though, I disagree with the concept of grey being a universally
"dirty" or bad concept. What about Grey Nomads? No negative connotations
there as far as I'm concerned. How about our "Grey Army", K Rudd's business
mentor program, again something I can only see as positive? And certainly
the idea of white and black being universally pure and sullied is not true
either. In Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese culture a bride wears red as a
symbol of good luck and auspiciousness, as opposed to our very western white
dresses. But I digress. For those who may be thinking I don't value
magazines like Wingspan given Bob's thoughts, I have contributed photographs
and text, often for free, to Wingspan on many occasions. I think it's a
fantastic magazine and only use the term "grey literature" because at this
date and until further notice it is the technically correct description in
any discussion of scientific literature. But please take away from my
initial email the message intended: AFO plays a very important role in its
current form that does not exist elsewhere and would be a tragedy to lose.
On Thu, Mar 4, 2010 at 6:12 PM, Robert Inglis <> wrote:
> In this world many cultures, including ours, have an inclination to equate
> the colour white with things that are pure, clean, unadulterated while the
> colour black is equated with things that are bad, dirty.
> White is a colour to aspire to (in many people's minds) while black is a
> colour to avoid and, in fact, fear. Except in the world of fashion, of
> course, but that is a world of unfathomable distortion.
> Grey, being something less than white is, therefore not pure, clean or
> unadulterated and should be approached with suspicion.
> As you would be aware, in the retail world there is such a thing as the
> 'grey market'. This is probably a term created by manufacturers of products
> which they wish to market as 'high quality' and thus could be given a
> premium price. In the photographic market the 'grey market' is generally
> that group of retailers who import directly from a wholesale source and then
> sell their products at a price which significantly undercuts the 'local'
> market. In most cases the 'grey' product and the 'genuine' local product are
> exactly the same but there are shady individuals who re-label inferior
> products and market them as genuine 'grey' products or, even, genuine
> 'local' products. Complicated, isn't it?
> The upshot of this is that the label 'grey' in this case is often used to
> insinuate 'fake', 'counterfeit, 'false', 'bad'.
> Many people, thus, would equate the term 'grey literature' with that
> literature being highly suspect at least and to be totally disregarded at
> the extreme.
> Wingspan obviously does not in any way claim to be a scientific publication
> and, in my mind, to refer to it as 'grey literature' can only do it harm.
> "Grey literature" is obviously a jargon term bandied around in the world of
> academia and that is ok but when the academics emerge into the 'real' world
> (Oh! No! Bob! You are going to get rocks on your roof!) they should remember
> that jargon is esoteric (love that word) by nature and it can be easily
> misinterpreted by the uninformed. I spent nearly 40 years working in a
> highly technical world where jargon was the main language and it certainly
> created a feeling of superiority to be able to converse in that language
> knowing that my non-technical friends were in awe of my high status in the
> order of beings. But what is the good of talking in a language that few
> people can understand?
> Anyway, what I am saying is that, in this case, 'grey literature' does
> appear to me to be pejorative, whether you intended it to be so or not (I
> speak for myself, others may differ), and I suggest you and your friends
> consider using a more accurately descriptive term when referring to
> Wingspan. It could help to narrow the academic/non-academic divide.
> Bob Inglis
> Sandstone Point