I came up with the term 'reverse anthropomorphism' yesterday while writing about Time (click here to see that blog). The idea is that while we often put human traits on non human things, we also tend to adopt non-human traits.
I ended up asking the LinkedIn crowd what they thought and I got a number of great answers. D.L. Kirby responded with 'Dehumanization' which, while good, it had a negative stigma that I was trying to avoid. I don't think that saying 'the brain is like clockwork' or saying it works like a computer necessarily dehumanizes us.
I got a few responses for Objectify, or Objectification. On its own, the word works, but, again, I think that we have a lot of baggage with the word Objectification.
John Riutta suggested 'antikemophism' which is a great word, with no baggage, but it kind of slides off the front of the brain. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much about the over intellectualization of the response -- you're not going to generate conversations with people about anthropomorphism at the truck stop.
Toby Younis suggested 'anthromechanization' which in turn led me to Mechomorphism. I liked the psychology student's concept of 'ratomorphism', but I think it only applies to people who emulate rats or machines. Now that's a hell of a a big topic to explore in our post modernist world….
Top honors go to Matthew Vaughn for 'Emulation' which is by far the most appropriate word. It's exactly the right word, already exists with no other baggage. We emulate the Internet in our social networking structures.
After so many interesting twists and turns, 'Emulation' is almost a letdown -- I mean, I wanted something NEW, something shiny this big, new world we're creating everyday. Isn't that what we do online? Create new words?
Ultimately I have to say it's a good thing to know that the English language still works for us, and we didn't have to make up a word to describe the changing (or maybe not so changing) world.
Update as of August 5 I just got the suggestion Xenopromorphization from Jeff Ello. Wow. Great word. Not nearly as boring as Emulation, no baggage, and worth a HUGE number of points in Scrabble.
I might have to revise the winner of the word!