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Computer lingo and IT fashion

By Jean-Claude Elias - Feb 14,2019 - Last updated at Feb 14,2019

Do you say website address or URL? Do you speak of graphic card or GPU? Of new hard disks or SSD? Do you say software programme or app? Do you have trouble dealing with your Apple ID? Are you familiar with OLED screens technology? Do you know what the word platform refers to in the world of technology? Do you know if you have a hardware or software firewall? Is your video Chromecast in line with the 3rd generation? How much do you know about digital biometric personal identification? Does your home network switch provide POE?

As we know, spoken languages evolve, but their speed of change is nothing compared to that of information technology (IT) lingo. Understandably, IT jargon keeps being updated as fast as technology itself, which says a lot about the subject. God only knows how fast it all goes.

The difficulty lies in the fact that to communicate with others, be it your friends, parents, children, colleagues or the IT tech support people, or simply to go shopping online, you have to be up to date. Otherwise you are at the risk of not being understood, in the best case, or to be the laughing stock of your peers, in the worst.

There was a time, in the 1980s and the 1990s, when learning the newly introduced computer terminology just once and forever was enough. Megabytes, floppy disks and baud rates were fashion terms back then. Once we entered the 21 first century, however, we discovered that all this had to be constantly updated, changed and replaced with newer terms. In other words your knowledge of whatever technical terminology was never static. There is a constant effort to make to know what terms are used in the IT world today, not yesterday – literally in some cases.

The first, major, and obvious change is that you hardly just say “computer” these days. Though the machines are still here, you would rather speak of IT. Indeed, computer is not only old but too vague. Besides, if we stick to the prime definition of computer, which is “an electronic digital device that has a processor, a few input-output ports, memory and some storage capacity”, then most electronics today are computers in their own right, or at least they feature a computer inside them, from home appliances to elevators and cars!

A few years ago people would say “I work in the computer field”. Today they have to specify if they are coders (programmers), if they provide technical support, deal with networks or with servers, do website design, do website development (definitely different from website design…), if they write apps for iOS or Android mobile devices, if they are Oracle database specialists, if they work in the augmented reality field... the list goes on and on.

Following the trend is not a choice, it is a must. If only to know what exactly is going on. Even – well, especially – Google search obeys IT fashion. I was looking for some information about dear old William Shakespeare last week. I started typing, letter after letter, as usual, “S”, “h”, “a”, “k”... and I immediately got “Shakira” as a first search result. Perhaps it just means that Shakira is a word that is now more searched than Shakespeare on the web, or perhaps it means something else… It is IT fashion again.

The good news is that to keep up with the fast pace is not so difficult. Thanks to IT itself, of course, and on the web you just have to be curious, to listen carefully, and then to search the web for an explanation of any new term you may have recently heard or seen. Reading is still the prime source for learning, and it applies rather well in this very case. Wikipedia is an excellent source to find updated technical terminology. Sometimes advertisers and manufacturers use newly-coined terms. Unless you happen to already know them, just google them and see what they mean. It is the little price to pay not to be left behind.

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