dictionary

Nomenclature is terribly important to the way in which we make sense of the world around us. Here are some terms related to the tech world that, quite frankly, are lazy and we could do without*…

Digital
What isn’t digital these days? I’ll tell you something… The carpet that my wife and I recently bought. It’s made of wool and stuff, can’t be shoved down an IP network, and we even bought it from a local shop that even still do all their bookkeeping on paper, bless them.

But in many fields, everything is now digital in some way or form, so using the term “digita”l just confuses. Take, for example, Digital Agencies in the marketing world. What on earth do they do? Simple fact is, as a generality, you’ll have no idea – especially if you are trying to distinguish their activities from non-digital agencies.

Digital radio I’ll give you… Although only if you mean DAB.

Mobile
When was the last time you bought a computing device that wasn’t mobile?

So when people say “mobile” what do they mean? A phone? A smartphone? A touchscreen? Something connected to a telephone cell network? See what I mean??

Cyber
When I hear the term “cyber” I think Metropolis and Stormtroopers’ legs. Don’t ask why, but the fact its that these reference points are over 85 and over 35 years old respectively.

Cyberspace itself as a term is 30+ years old too, and the one that really gets me is cyber security (especially when coupled to the word Czar, a redundant concept itself for nearly a century. IT’S JUST SECURITY!

Labelling it “cyber” means people don’t think it’s their problem and leads to things like my Mum’s best friend telling me a few days ago that “Ealing” is her password for everything (her friend, not my Mum. Although I bet my Mum’s passwords are no smarter)…

Virtual
It’s not a virtual meeting… It’s a meeting. Calling it “virtual” because one of your colleagues is dialing in whilst looking after a sick kid gives everyone an excuse to be doing their email or checking Ebay when they should be paying attention.

It’s not a virtual team, it’s a real team. Just because you don’t all follow the same leader doesn’t make you any less a team (unless you’re Chelsea or the Conservative Party at the moment).

And by the way, it’s not virtual reality. It’s a 3D computer-generated model.

Legacy
The legacy of the medieval Italian city states has been banking, double-entry book keeping and fine art. Only in tech is legacy generally seen as pejorative. But even worse, when tech companies say legacy, they mean their customer’s or prospect’s “current”. Which actually they might have invested a lot of money in and have grown quite attached to, thank you.

Reinvent
You can change something that exists invent something that doesn’t. Is it a new thing or not?

Social
Social is an adjective and it exists much more strongly in the physical world, and has done forever because of the fact that that makes us what we are as a species. Generally when it’s used as a prefix what is meant is “software that allows people to talk to each other” rather than “software that crunches numbers or other data”.

“Social” software that allows us to “talk” to inanimate objects is at best anthropomorphism and at worst borderline madness. That’s like calling one of the worst telephone call centre “press 7 for more futility” systems a “digital social telephony network”.

Ten things that…
The short term memory gives up for most people at about 7 items. Our brains’ processing capability has not been determined by the number of fingers we possess.

*bearing in mind that the Internet is the land that irony forgot, I’m only being semi-serious here…

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