Archive for category Language
I love learning jargon, and at a recent tech conference in New York City I got to add a few pieces to my collection. Here’s what technologists use to describe what they do when normal words simply aren’t enough.
Tech (n.) Any device incorporating digital technology, and the digital technology itself.
Exp: “This new iPhone is a great piece of tech.”
This is quickly devolving from shorthand for technology into a word exclusively denoting smartphones, tablets, and the bits and pieces that make them work. We say that our society has faith in technology, but many of us seem to actually mean the kinds of technology that come with plenty of silicon.
Unlike a lot of jargon, “tech” is actually a bit non-specific. A smartphone is a piece of tech, but so are the hardware and software that comprise it. Sometimes tech entrepreneurs need to be more specific, which brings us to our next term…
Solution (n.) A product proffered by a tech company for a specific application.
Exp: “Our company provides innovative solutions for in-car infotainment.”
Since a lot of what tech companies produce is non-corporeal software, someone obviously thought it was a good idea to ditch the word “product,” which implies something more substantial; it’s basically the opposite of what the finance industry did. it’s a suitable term for a technology that seeks to insert itself into all kinds of situations, from glasses to car dashboards.
Innovate (v.) To create something new, specifically a new piece of tech.
Exp: “To solve society’s problems, people need to be free to innovate.”
I miss the days of Dexter’s Laboratory and middle school history lessons about Thomas Edison, when scientists and engineerings invented things instead of just innovating. Being innovative is great, but shouldn’t there be a specific goal behind the innovation? A carbon fiber toothbrush would be incredibly innovative, but there wouldn’t be much of a point to it.
Space (n.) A subject, an area of expertise, a topic.
Exp: “Milled aluminum knobs are very important in the home audio space.”
This admittedly, has more to do with the people writing about the tech industry than the people in it. For some reason, when it comes to technology, there aren’t topics or beats, there are spaces.
Maybe it has to do with the way tech takes on different forms to infiltrate into different physical spaces; morphing into intelligent flat screens and TFT speedometers.
Got any tech terms of your own? Post them in the comments below.
So I’ve encountered a new phrase called “first world problems.” I have a problem with this phrase.
It seems to mean something that really isn’t a big deal, like having to prepare a presentation or being peeved that the barista put cream in your Starbucks concoction instead of milk. You know, things that don’t have to do with subsistence.
I see what people are getting at here. We all get wrapped up in our lives, make mountains out of mole hills and forget how lucky we are to live the way we do. That’s fine.
Checking your whining with a phrase like “first world problems” is a little obnoxious, though. It sounds like the person is saying “I know I shouldn’t be complaining about this trivial thing, but I will,” or “See how conscious I am of other people’s suffering?”
Both are very “first world” things to do. I’m a huge fan of irony, but too much of a good thing is still a problem. Drawing an implied comparison between oneself and a starving African child or a smog-choked Chinese factory worker doesn’t make a person sound smart or sensitive, it just makes them sound like they are trying to license their whining.
The phrase “first world problems” is also etymologically dubious. Do you ever notice why people never talk about the second world? It’s because the terms first world and second world were coined during the Cold War to describe the United States and its NATO allies and the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, respectively. Any countries not within either the U.S. or Soviet sphere were referred to as the third world.
So maybe we should stop using outdated political terms to label our trivial complaints. It’s perfectly fine to complain, even if you know that someone else would be happy to be in your position. It’s not a big deal, and certainly doesn’t merit a snarky term like “first world problems.”
Saying what’s on your mind can have unfortunate consequences, but there is a way to avoid them. I get into a lot of political debates/cage matches with people, some of whom say things that are flat out wrong. How do they maintain their credibility? They use a magic phrase.
Saying “Open Says Me” can open doors, and saying “This is just my opinion” apparently allows someones to make any stupid remark they want with impunity. I’ve had people tell me that, on average, conservatives are smarter than liberals, and that President Obama will raise more money than Mitt Romney because of his Hollywood connections. These seem like things that need to be backed up with evidence, but since each person qualified it as “their opinion,” they didn’t feel the need to.
In the cinematic triumph that is Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, a redneck NASCAR driver played by Will Ferrell uses the same tactic. Ricky tells his boss that “With all due respect, I didn’t know you had experimental surgery to have your balls removed.” That sounds inappropriate, but he did say “with all due respect.” Most people who debate politics think they are smarter than Will Ferrell’s character, but I’m not so sure.
People don’t need to be reminded about the First Amendment, but they do need to be reminded about responsible use. Saying whatever you want and using the right to free speech as en excuse is not responsible; it just makes the speaker look dumb, and makes rational discussion more difficult. Everyone has an opinion, but they can still be wrong.
Still, being able to say whatever I want by using one simple phrase sounds like fun. I’m going to give it a try. This is just my opinion, but:
Mitt Romney is an alien sent to conquer Earth with an army of dancing horses.
John Boehner is an Oompa-Loompa who took steroids.
On average, conservatives are most likely to be cannibals.
After being defeated by the Light Side, Emperor Palpatine fled to Earth, starting a new life under the pseudonym “Dick Cheney.”
Ronald Reagan did not end the Cold War.