Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hush Technology

BusinessWeek has "put together a list of outdated tech terms," which includes intranet, extranet, Web surfing, long-distance call, and push technology.

You'd think that, what with the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression, business publications wouldn't be cranking out stories that evoke the phrase "slow news week." But there it is.

I clicked the link hoping for a little nostalgia -- you know: baud, floppy, token ring, boot disk, clicks and mortar, dot-com millionaire. But no. Nothing more exciting than ASP.

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Joel said...

I have to confess that as someone who's worked in IT for a few years, I have an intense emotional response to the article you link. "Slow news week" doesn't begin to describe it.

Somewhere along the way, folks in the industry decided that they have to change the terminology every week, even--and I want to be very clear--if the underlying principles and fundamental technology have changed little, if at all. It's worse than silly. Trendy IT professionals, despite their abundance of dorky stylelessness are the worst kind of fashonistas.

This list of "outdated" words and the arrogant pronouncement that we can't say them does indeed inspire a Carlinesque response in which the seven words are likely to appear with great frequency. It's fine--wonderful even--that the language evolves and new words with nuance and contemporary reference appear. And, truly, I like and use a lot of the new language because it's meaningful. But I'm not about to stop using useful terminology just because a band of self-appointed, egotistical, under-employed, insecure trendwatchers decides that it makes me look old. What they're doing is deliberately obscuring the landscape so that the rest of us might be fooled into thinking that they're actually worth what they're overpaid. I'm not buying it. They can kiss my aged ASP.

I feel better now. But I just might have to go surf the interwebs on my fancy little 3GS Apple PDA.

June Casagrande said...

That's funny! Funnier yet is that I come at this from the opposite angle and arrive at the same conclusion.

With my background in news and feature writing, I'm reminded of the process we reporters used to come up with these trend stories:

1. Notice something. Anything.
2. Declare it a trend.
3. Look for further evidence.
4. After failing to find much, refuse to admit that you have nothing solid and are therefore not the groundbreaking cultural observer you fancy yourself to be.
5. Dig up "examples" to support your premise and squeeze those square pegs into your story's round holes.

Viola. A trend.

Luckily, readers sense that they shouldn't take these things too seriously. Still, I almost sympathize with the reporters who make one observation and try to cast it as: Here's a big cultural shift that only I was smart enough to observe.


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