Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Geekspeak Baffles Web Users 363

Posted by Zonk
from the roflcopter dept.
An anonymous reader writes to mention a BBC article on the technology buying public's continued frustration with 'geek speak'. Despite ever-increasing adoption of high tech gadgets in first-world nations, the terms used to describe what these new toys do often elude the people who buy them. From the article: "Acronyms in particular foxed users. 75% of online Britons did not know that VOD stands for video-on-demand, while 68% were unaware that personal video recorders were more commonly referred to as PVRs. Millions of people keep in touch via instant messaging but some 57% of online Brits said they did not know that the acronym for it was IM. 'The technology industry is perhaps the most guilty of all industries when it comes to love of acronyms,' said Mr Burmaster. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Geekspeak Baffles Web Users

Comments Filter:
  • by aoism (996912) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:46PM (#16329231)
    pepople cant memorize computer industry acronyms
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cabinetsoft (923481)
      Beat this: AAAAAAAAAAAAAA - American Amateur Applied Arts Academy Association Against Absurd And Asininely Artificial Alliterative Acronyms Award
    • by rootrot (103518) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:13PM (#16329615)
      Wait...Brits who don't understand tech acronyms are getting hit with foxes?!? Is this some strange backlash against the hunt ban? I am so confused....
    • by jacquesm (154384) <jNO@SPAMww.com> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:14PM (#16329635) Homepage
      IANALA (I am *not* a language analyst) but I'm pretty sure that since as long as language exists those who have the ability to make up new words or to grasp the meaning of a new word without a lot of explanation belonged to the smarter segment of the population. The faster our development becomes the more important these skills are. We've now reached a point in time where it won't be long before the rate of development has become so great that it is possible for two people to no longer be able to communicate with each other even though they share a common language due to this vocabulary development gap.

      If you don't believe that try to decipher an SMS message sent by one 13 year old to another :)

      And PCMCIA was a pretty good example, but some of the stuff I see here on /. causes me to reach for the nearest search engine to figure out what on earth they mean.

      this place could easily be nicknamed buzzword central :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pipingguy (566974) *
        I'm pretty sure that since as long as language exists those who have the ability to make up new words or to grasp the meaning of a new word without a lot of explanation belonged to the smarter segment of the population.

        But probably most maker-uppers-of-words/terms do so for marketing reasons.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      pepople cant memorize computer industry acronyms

      I'll grant that PCMCIA was one of the worst ever. However, I still see relatively non-geeky people using it, despite the fact that it was shortened years ago to just PC card. Yet, if I say "PC card", they think I mean a video card.

      OTOH (look it up, lazy ones) people just don't care enough to learn anything new -- it's just toooo haaaarrrrd Maybe it's just trickle down from the fist-pumping manager assholes who insist that the world come to them and "present"

    • by vertinox (846076) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:07PM (#16330299)
      This reminds me of when I took my A+ certs back in the 90's when you still had to memorize the acroynyms and what they stood like PCI, ISA, SCSI, and EISA,that other properietary standard IBM used (that I can't remember even the acronym...I remember what they looked like... those special blue slot cards), and maybe a dozen other legacy technology names and things.

      But yet during my job at any place... Anywhere... No one ever questioned about what the actual acronym but rather what the difference was... As in... PCI was the new faster standard on ATX motherboards and ISA was the long black slots for older systems (even though you couldn't buy a new computer at that point without both).

      These days I can't remember any of them except International Standards Association and I'm assuming EISA is Enchandced? (I even kept an EISA card around to show off to people).

      So I think people don't really need to remember what the acronym really says, but what the technology does, because otherwise its a waste of space in your brain in 5 years when the technology is no longer in use.
    • by Aussie (10167)
      Personal Computer Manufacturers Create Idiotic Acronyms
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      VOD stands for video-on-demand,

      I didn;t know that. When you use an acronym you should let people know wtf (What The Fuck) your stupid acronym means. Otherwise, I (and others) will assume you're a fucktard trying to snow me.

      Too lazy to spell it? Fuck off then, I'm not the least interested.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcrbids (148650)
      Funny.

      But what gets me is that there are acronyms in EVERY field. In California Education you have acronyms like "CBEDS" (California Basic Educational Data Service) and "CSIS". (California Statewide Identifer System)

      In automechanics you have acronyms like TDC (Top Dead Center) and MAFS (Mass Air Flow Sensor)

      In Aviation you have acronyms like POH, (Pilot Operator's Handbook) VOR (Very high frequency Omidirectional Ranging) and Vne. (Velocity never to exceed)

      In medicine, you have acronyms like ADD, (Attention
  • actually... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SEAL (88488) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:46PM (#16329237)
    The technology industry is perhaps the most guilty of all industries when it comes to love of acronyms

    I'd give that distinction to the government and/or military :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by climbing (194764)
      statistics or anecdotes aside...
      there is something troubling about the pace of technology change and tech-language change when it starts to intimidate buyers; alienate populations; exploit the niave...

      it is hard to keep pace with new acronyms and insider lingo. harder still to research best-value when buying a new product. how much of this acronym is enough?

      are you a teacher? smart ass /. reader? IT professional? a parent? son/daughter to someone struggling with e-mail? parent? then please **TEACH pe
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Every time I hear one of those flashy RAF boys use the ancronym ASRAAM (The AIM-132 Anvanced Short Range Air to Air Missile) it always cracks me up since the way they pronounce it usually makes it sound a lot more like a method of copulation not uncommonly seen raunchy porn movies than a ancronym for a missile system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dachannien (617929)
      For example:

      AIREVACCONFIRM [dtic.mil]
      MARCORMATCOM [dtic.mil]
      SCATMINEWARN [dtic.mil]

      These and many others are available here. [dtic.mil]
  • WTF?! (Score:2, Funny)

    by valkabo (840034)
    WTF NUBS?! RTFM!
  • by HappyHead (11389) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:47PM (#16329249)
    DMUANUY
    Don't Make Up Acronyms - Nobody Understands You
  • Sigh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dewie (685736) <dbscully&gmail,com> on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:48PM (#16329257)
    Despite ever-increasing adoption of high tech gadgets in first-world nations, the terms used to describe what these new toys do often allude the people who buy them.

    I don't usually like to complain about grammar and spelling in article summaries, but come on. Even of you'd used the word you meant, it'd still have been the wrong word.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by dewie (685736)
      Even of you'd used...

      And there's the inevitable typo in a grammar-nazi post. Double-sigh.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      >>Even of you'd used the word you meant, it'd still have been the wrong word.

      I don't usually like to complain about grammar and spelling in post replies, but come on, at least get your spellings right while cribbing about it, especially when you'd used the world you did not mean is the wrong word.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by QuickFox (311231)
        especially when you'd used the world you did not mean is the wrong word

        Suppose you get your English right... :-D
        • Dang! But one fine day, I will get my "grammar-nazi"-nazi post right.
    • Re:Sigh. (Score:4, Funny)

      by wall0159 (881759) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:25PM (#16329791)

      It's because we try to show how intelligent and sophisticated we are by using words we can't spell, and whose meaning we don't really know.

      aren't we humans a bunch of wankers? ;-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pilkul (667659)
        Those of us who use a thesaurus can fake it with perfect spezzatura!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      elude/allude

      Elude means 'to escape'.
      Allude is a common depressant.
    • by pilkul (667659)
      Even of you'd used the word you meant, it'd still have been the wrong word.

      No, it would've been the right word. Merriam-Webster's definition 2 [m-w.com].

  • Wow. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jello B. (950817)
    Think of how confusing "IANAL" must be to them.
  • Small wonder (Score:2, Redundant)

    by QuickFox (311231)
    the terms used to describe what these new toys do often allude the people who buy them

    No wonder they're baffled when the geeks try to speak English but don't know English.
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)
      What's that old saying... ah yes:

      Enable programmers to program in English and you will find that they can't.
  • by XNine (1009883) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:52PM (#16329331)
    My parents get the idea of Memory (RAM, or to save those who don't know this acronym: Random Access Memory) for a computer crossed with "memory" (HDD or Hard Disk Drive). I tell my mother "you need more memory" and she instantly freaks out with "I HAVE TO UPGRAD ETHE HARD DRIVE AGAIN?!" No, mom. I still love her.
    • by jdigriz (676802)
      It's an interesting question. Why can't older adults learn new terms with fixed meanings? Does the fear of computers have an impact on long-term human memory or something? People rarely mistake a truck for a city bus, even though both have engines and wheels and travel on roads. SImilarly, if you show a person a hard drive and a memory dimm they will not mistake one for the other unless they have very bad eyesight or have neurological problems. But many of them mix the terms up all the time. I'm reall
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by daranz (914716)
        If someone showed me two species of ducks, that are significantly different from each other (like, a different color of feathers), and then told me their names, I'd probably get them mixed up if they asked me to identify a duck a week later. That's because I don't work with ducks. I am not into ducks. I don't care what species they are, and I have no need to know.

        I guess it's similar with people who have no desire or need to know what's inside of their computer. On the other hand, you have to know the dif
        • by chrylis (262281) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:20PM (#16329727)
          This is the reason I'm always very careful to maintain the distinction between "memory" (RAM) and "space" (secondary storage). Non-geeks may not always understand just from the terms what the difference is, but I've found that most people can grasp the analogy between "memory" (things I have in my head) vs. "space" (things I can't remember but wrote down and put in my desk for next week).
          • by Woldry (928749)
            Now see, speaking as a non-techie (I'm geekish in a score of other ways), I don't confuse the terms myself, but I can easily see how the term "memory" can get confused. In your head, memory is where you store things to retrieve later -- much like the way you use a hard drive in a computer. RAM doesn't work the way most people think of their own "memory" as working -- it's more like "brainpower".

            That said, I teach a computer class at the library where I work, and often have to explain the difference to o
          • This is one of the confusions that really doesn't irritate me at all, because the distinction is entirely pedantic. RAM and hard disk are just slightly different tiers in a typical memory hierarchy. Most computers use hard disks for virtual memory (since external memory algorithms are my research field, this is true for me more than for most), and a big chunk RAM is often used as disk cache on a modern desktop or laptop. The distinction is only important if you are running an unreliable machine where you
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by pilkul (667659)
              That's certainly true from a theoretical/expert standpoint, but we're talking about the experience of everyday users here. Adding more "memory" to a typical Windows computer doesn't allow storage of any more files, but makes the computer faster. That's no minor pedantic distinction: the hardware has an effect which is entirely different from what a layman would expect just knowing its name.
        • by Tim Browse (9263) on Friday October 06, 2006 @03:57AM (#16333621)

          I am not into ducks.

          The slashdotter doth protest too much, methinks.

      • It's an interesting question. Why can't older adults learn new terms with fixed meanings? Does the fear of computers have an impact on long-term human memory or something? People rarely mistake a truck for a city bus, even though both have engines and wheels and travel on roads. SImilarly, if you show a person a hard drive and a memory dimm they will not mistake one for the other unless they have very bad eyesight or have neurological problems. But many of them mix the terms up all the time. I'm really perp
    • by Skadet (528657) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:20PM (#16329731) Homepage
      You know, back in high school when I sold computers for a chain, I came up with this helper:

      Let's say your computer is a kitchen. Your hard drive is the cabinets, and your RAM is the countertop. If you have lots of cabinets and a small countertop, you can still cook whatever you want, you'll just be cleaning up and putting pots and pans away a lot more often. If you have a large counter, you can cook and cook until you're done, and clean it all up at once.

      Nothing earthshattering, but I got a lot of "Ohhhh!!"s after explaining it that way.
      • by dorkygeek (898295)

        Hmmm, what's this "cooking" thing you're speaking of??

      • by TempeTerra (83076) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:34PM (#16330579)
        Oh, crap. Here comes the apocalypse.

        And by these signs shall ye be warned:
        natural order turned a-head -
        the chicken rises from the pot;
        laws of logic lose their sway -
        appropriate analogies on Slashdot
  • hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by nrgy (835451)
    With all my L33T knowledge I still trying to figure out what the GIRL acronym means. Oh well back to WoW.
  • by EasyT (749945) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:56PM (#16329387) Journal
    I didn't RTFA, but WTF? FYI IANAL, but AFAIK this is slander, AKA lies. I'd sue FTW ASAP. J/K, LOL.
    • by QuickFox (311231)
      FWIW, IAWTP.
    • I'd love to know what all those mean...

      And, no, I'm not new here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rizzo420 (136707)
        I didn't RTFA, but WTF? FYI IANAL, but AFAIK this is slander, AKA lies. I'd sue FTW ASAP. J/K, LOL.

        I didn't read the f@#king article, but what the f@#k? for your information i am not a lawyer, but as far as i know this is slander, also known as lies. i'd sue for the win as soon as possible. just kidding, laugh out loud.
      • by tool462 (677306) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @09:35PM (#16331215)
        I didn't RTFA, but WTF? FYI IANAL, but AFAIK this is slander, AKA lies. I'd sue FTW ASAP. J/K, LOL.
        I didn't reheat the fettucini alfredo, but why the fuss? Food you ingest isn't always noodles and liquid, but also fried and I know this is slander, all knavery and lies. I'd sue fraudulent temp waiters (and salt and pepper). Just kidding, love oily linguini.
  • > "There is a certain level of knowledge snobbery in so far as if you talk in acronyms you sound like you really know what you are talking about and if others don't understand then they are seen in some way as inferior,"

    It's domain-specific knowledge, and the domain changes on a weekly basis. I'll bet half the non-technical users who didn't grok the TLAs in the TFA would have no problems instantly recognizing "Bennifer" and "TomKat" or whoever the cute-celeb-name-du-jour is on the entertainment new

    • Even people who use the acronyms and terms regularly have trouble without a little bit contextual help. Every heard the one about the Hindi Cardiologist who died of a heart attack in K-Marts while rushing to aid the victim of a blue-light special in isle 3?
    • by Woldry (928749)
      Amen. This problem is not specific to geekdom.

      I work in a library, and one day I heard a coworker calling a patron about a book the patron had requested. We'd tried to get it from another library through interlibrary loan, and we had gone through the list of possible lenders in the online service we use ("OCLC"). On the phone with this patron who knows nothing of libraryspeak, my coworker said, "We tried to ILL it, but we've exhausted the OCLC string."

      I winced as I imagined the poor little old lady
  • by pen (7191) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @06:58PM (#16329417)
    As technology gets more advanced, less understanding of it is required to be able to use it. My mom doesn't know how to change the oil in her car, but she can still drive it.
    • As technology gets more advanced, less understanding of it is required to be able to use it. My mom doesn't know how to change the oil in her car, but she can still drive it.

      And while the nice guy in me wants to make things great for EVERYBODY...the logical part of me is thinking "you know what? screw em!". Reason being...if these people don't know enough about the tech to know the jargon, I don't want them anywhere near it. Honestly...I think it should be that way with cars too. If knowledge requireme

    • by fm6 (162816)
      Yeah, but she probably knows that oil needs to be changed, and she maybe even understands why. It's easy to understand WTF engine oil is for because "oil" is a word every native English-speaker is familiar with. If Jiffy Lube talked like geeks they'd rename oil "petroleum-based automotive lubricant" and engine wear "friction-induced damage" and take out ads saying "Reinitialize your PBAL before FID occurs!" Nobody would know what they were talking about, just as nobody understands most of the unnecessary ja
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Your analogy is a layer too deep. That would be compared to someone not knowing how to code a program, but still able to execute one. A better analogy would be, "My Mother doesn't know what PCV stands for in PCV Valve (positive crankcase ventilation), but she can still drive her car."

      OTOH if the electronics industry were like the pharmacutical industry, we would have (at least) two names for every piece of electronics, one that is useful and descriptive (chemical), and one that is interesting and disting
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)
      As technology gets more advanced, less understanding of it is required to be able to use it. My mom doesn't know how to change the oil in her car, but she can still drive it.

      That depends on the inherent complexity of what you want to do. You basicly want a car to go in a given direction at a given speed. For that you have a wheel and two pedals (msking it as easy as possible). You have four actions, turn left, turn right, accelerate and brake. Almost everything else can be automated away (or is convienientl
  • by suso (153703) * on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:03PM (#16329463) Homepage Journal
    and they are bad when overused. Its not a problem with geekspeak. There are often times when I am frustrated with people's overuse of acronyms, especially in non-computer environments. So don't blame us.
  • No problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by marcello_dl (667940) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:04PM (#16329479) Homepage Journal
    The industry is soon going to make people fully aware of the importance of acronyms in the tech products they use. The lesson will start with 'DRM'...
  • by hardaker (32597)
    U bet they n3v3r b3 31337 h@x0rs!
    • I think you put more effort in "mastering l33tsp34k" then actually mastering doing something geeky. (you're 10 years late for it to be considered geeky.)
  • IM VOD PVR't

    What else can be said unintentionally with such acronymns strung together.
  • Newsflash! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daVinci1980 (73174) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:16PM (#16329659) Homepage
    In other news, the sky is blue, the earth is round and objects fall down!

    Of course a large percentage of folks who don't use a particular technology don't know the acronyms used to refer to that technology. I'm sure back in the 40s, 70% of the population didn't know that TV was an acronym for television. For that matter, I bet 20 years ago (early days of the Personal Computer), 70% of the population didn't know what PC meant either.

    Good job slashdot! If this were fark, the article would get the 'obvious' tag, and the submitter would be deserving of the 'dumbass' tag.
  • what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:17PM (#16329679) Journal
    I didn't know a lot of the stuff that they put on here before I started coming on /. because in England people don't use IM to talk about it, people would usually say in full or say "messenger" (some people even use "msn" like a brand name for the whole lot - I think AIM is more common in the US)... so the poll seems a bit strange. People just have names that they know things by that they and their friends would use. Besides that, I've never met someone with a PVR anyway, I think the poll seems very American on British audiences it doesn't seem that amazing.

    Other than that; "OMG!!!!11! teh l33t pwnd teh n00bs!!!one11!"
  • I'm kind of surprised how much of these terms I didn't know. I'd never thought to check what "RSS" stood for, for example, or referred to a personal video recorder as anything but. Come to think of it, I don't even know what "VHS" stands for. It's quite humbling.

    The jargon was a different story, though.
  • Yeah I dont think i've ever even seen that acronym written anywhere. Video on demand? Is that television? IPTV?

    PVR/DVR is pretty common, but as long as they knew what a "digital video recorder" was, then thats a pass. Not everyone perfers to use shortforms in place of words. IM is stupid and always has been. People should say "icq" instead. Like kleenex or coke.

    "So while 40% of online Britons receive news feeds, 67% did not know that the official term for this service was Really Simple Syndication."

    Man, I s

  • As a Brit IT guy tell me something I don't know. Or N.T.S.H.M.A.

    or,
    Try asking a Mac user for his MAC address. Can get very tricky. That's the cruelest TLA of all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      Of course in the UK you need a MAC to change ISPs.

      People get confused if you give them your MAC instead of your MAC so you'd better not get the two mixed up... Your Mac might have a MAC but that's not the MAC that you need.
  • May I recommend Peter Rukavina [ruk.ca]'s new site 3LA.ca [3la.ca] where he explains three-letter acronyms via audcast, in plain English.
  • There will always be a percentage of the population that just doesn't understand. When you don't understand a medical term, you can google it. When you don't understand a "geek" term, you can still google it. Unless you've been living under a rock and don't know what the verb "to google" implies.

    Just imagine... in the past, not understanding a medical term meant you had to get up and go to the library and find the medical dictionary in the reference section and look up what you wanted to know. It was a
    • by geekoid (135745)
      humans ar social animals, so there first instinct is often to ask someone.

      Oh, and when a doctor through a medical term at me, I ask them what it means. Just like I would expect them to ask me about an acronym they didn't know.

      Google is no substitute for communication.
      • by Rodness (168429)
        No, but googling one of these terms can be considered a form of asking what it means.

        My point was that we sympathize with people who complain that there's too many terms, instead of expecting them to make at least some interrogatory effort to learn the terms. Whether they query another person or google is really immaterial, I was just emphasizing that google doesn't even require the effort of getting off the couch.
    • by Rodness (168429)
      I also should have clarified in my example, not understanding a medical term that you heard on tv or the radio. Of course you'd ask a doctor to explain what it meant, just as you'd ask the network administrator fixing your computer what a podcast is when he casually mentions it.

      I meant when the dissemination of the terminology is separated from the ability to casually inquire...e.g. tv, web page, newspaper, etc.
  • by Ichijo (607641) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @07:57PM (#16330205) Homepage Journal
    Developers of message board software could define macros like [IANAL] (better yet, let the message board admins define them), and let the software convert it to <abbr title="I Am Not A Lawyer">IANAL</abbr>. It will show up as IANAL with a funny underline in the web browser, but when you hover your mouse over it, the abbreviation will be spelled out. (I would demonstrate it, but apparently Slashcode doesn't trust this particular markup.)
  • by Secrity (742221) on Thursday October 05, 2006 @08:12PM (#16330361)
    It is bad enough to have a plethora of acronyms, there are names of things that look like acronyms (JAVA, UNIX), acronyms that have multiple meanings (DBM, GPS), acronyms that have other meanings when used as words (AMPS, BIT). One unusual acronym is 'PA' which can mean Power Amp, Public Address, Prince Albert, Pennsylvania, Panama, Physician's Assistant, Power of Attorney, Press Agent, Production Assistant, and probably more.
    • by cnerd2025 (903423)
      I always liked the /. article [slashdot.org] invoking "BSA" (referring to the Business Software Alliance [wikipedia.org]). I was perplexed for a few seconds as to why the Boy Scouts of America [wikipedia.org] would be interested in software piracy (as a boy scout, I know that many scouts engage in piracy). Acronyms are just an occupational hazard. My father was in the Air Force for 30 years, and my mother commented once that it took her 10 years to "learn to speak Air Force."

Is a person who blows up banks an econoclast?

Working...