When I was in the fray, I discouraged my IT staff from speaking in acronyms as it was a way to quickly alienate us as unapproachable enigmas. Back then, words like ram, hard drive, memory, spam, gooey (GUI) meant only one thing and that huge heavy metal box with the even heavier monitor wasn’t part of their urban dictionary. Not only was that domain not yet founded, I was a technology manager BEFORE the web was born. I’ll let that sink in a bit, even for my peers who may have forgotten what life was like before Google.
What was important for me at the time, was that we not make technology inaccessible to our academic community through high tech talk and secrets that puffed up our geek-ego and left the faculty and students feeling like Luddites. It’s easy to feel superior when you resolve a computer problem that was stopping them from grading a Foucault midterm. But in truth 99% of the time, turning the computer off and then back on (rebooting 😉 was all that you did to fix the crisis.
But everyone wants to look like they are in the know. It’s one of the things that make us feel special, or worthy. “I know words, I have the best words.” It’s easy in retrospect to see how inflated we were about our jargon.
Now of course my contemporaries and I find ourselves on the receding edge of technology when even our phone features have a magnitude of more power than those old heavy metal boxes. Ahh the IBM XT with DOS 2.0, who would ever want for more than 128 ram and a 10MB hard drive?
And still because I worked at AT&T for 99 years (as my family teases me when I puff my databanks) I have a tendency to overuse acronyms. If not to look hip and cool, it is to avoid extra keystrokes with my Heberden’s Nodes. Oh the joys of old digits in a digital world.
So imagine my delight that this last week I learned four new phrases!