What does it all mean? Part deux

This isn’t just a Web site: it’s a smartifact.

That’s right, it’s an intelligent repository that dynamically changes as often as it’s used. Though the jargon “”smartifact”” was coined by Marketing Management magazine three years ago to describe mobile products that showed self-awareness,

I think it can apply to ITBusiness.ca. As proof, I thought we would go over some of the responses to the editorial I wrote late last month when I encouraged you to submit to me your best (and worst) examples of the new jargon.

To review: by new jargon, I refer to words that are modified or co-opted to give the root word an ironic or clever meaning. This is particularly rampant in IT, and collecting them becomes the inevitable hobby of the journalists who cover it. In my office, the best-loved jargon was “”channel stuffing”” which does not really fit the definition of new jargon (because it actually describes a business practice, and has no “”root”” meaning) but is nonetheless ripe for double entendres.

For many people, I suspect, the use of these terms becomes an ongoing source of irritation. “”What I hate is the use of IT terms in a non-IT context,”” said Glenn Reimche, president of Corporate Access Ltd. in Edmonton. “”You’re in a meeting, an off-topic discussion occurs, until someone says, ‘We should take this discussion offline.’ We were online?””

I hear “”offline”” quite a bit, usually during a press conference when the CEO of a technology firm doesn’t want to answer my question right away.

You almost expect this from people who have been in the business for a long time, but not from the next generation. Daryl Fuller, PMO analyst in the NCS Project Management Office at BC Hydro, passed along something he’s overheard his 14 year-old say on the phone while watching TV: “”I’m busy now. I’ll netmeeting you later.””

Nathan Davidson hates the use of the word “”Netizen,”” which I’ve discussed in this space before. “”If that isn’t a bad label, I don’t know what is,”” he writes.

Nick Cripps offered one of his favourites, a word used for describing either something he’s done or something a user has done: an “”IDtenT error””. “”So far

few people have caught on that it spells out ID10T,”” he writes, adding, “”I always use it with humour, never derogatorily.””

When I closed off my first “”What does it all mean?”” editorial I said that there was probably a word to describe the use of jargon to shut people out, but that I wasn’t going to come up with it. As it turns out I had no need to; readers were happy to supply me with suggestions.

“”How about lexclude, lexile (lex as in lexicon) or idiomit?”” Reimche offered. Kraig Short came up with “”textclusion”” and “”bar-codetalk,”” while Fuller pointed out that “”netclusive”” — meaning exclusively found on the Net — comes awfully close.

In the end, however, top honours have to go to Kevin Raftery, an instructor in NIC Computer Science/Math from Campbell River, BC, who pointed out that the word already exists: obfuscation, or the deliberate attempt to stupify or bewilder. Thanks to everyone to wrote in on this one, but let’s keep this conversation online.

sschick@itbusiness.ca

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