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Public Confused by Tech Lingo

CmdrTaco posted about 11 years ago | from the no-shocker-here dept.

Technology 1041

the_helper_monkey writes "The BBC has an article about how tech jargon confuses the public. It's based on a survey done by AMD asking the definitions of words such as megahertz, MP3, and Bluetooth. " I was recently reminded of how big a deal this is while trying to help my tech novice brother select a computer. If you don't know what a gigabyte is, it's hard to know how large of a hard drive you need.

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Jargon and the like ... (4, Funny)

jmays (450770) | about 11 years ago | (#6390976)

j00 d0n7 u|\|d3r574|\|d m3 1337 5p34|????

But seriously, back when I was on phone tech support, half of the battle was describing things without using tech jargon. The other half of the battle was having patience. Thank goodness I am not doing that any more ... I do love the jargon of tech.

Be Judicious (5, Funny)

kp833 (608343) | about 11 years ago | (#6391142)

In promulgating your esoteric cogitations and articulating your superficial, psychological and sentimental observation. Beware of platitudinous ponderosity. Let your extemporaneous decantations, unpremeditated explanations have voracious veracity without any rodomontade and thrasonical bombard. Sedulously, avoid all poly-syllabic profundity, pussilanimous vacuity, pestiferous profanity and similar transgressions.

Re:Be Judicious (1)

jmays (450770) | about 11 years ago | (#6391188)

In short, you paraphrased, be brief and don't use big words. ;)

FIRST PIST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6390978)

For years now, the common American penis bird has been a staple of every American's daily diet. Whether it be penis bird

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cholestorol, and sodium. Never before had such a nutritious meal been had without supplement or fortification. The scientists of

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President Hayes owed a number of favors to Francis Zefran because as I said earlier, the penis bird plume trade was an extremely

lucrative business and Mr. Zefran was important in getting RBH elected through a number of monetary gifts. President Hayes

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one would imagine, this quickly made Francis Zefran into the richest man in the world. He was soon a multi-billionaire

(quadrillionaire with today's inflation). Never before had a single man seen such wealth.

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argued that the act was unconstitutional and went against liberty itself, but once the detractors tasted delicious penis bird

meat for the first time, they immediately dropped their cases and followed the law to the letter. We all know today that penis

bird is the most delicious meat man has ever known, but at that time, the only meats people ate were pork and beef.

In the early 1970s, though, challenges to the act began again. Many argued that the monopoly given to Penis Bird Industries by

the act was in all ways unamerican. The Supreme Court finally agreed, and in 1974, Section II of the act was struck down. This

in effect opened the market to competition for all.

Today, Penis Bird Industries is almost no more. Today we have the market leader Penis Bird Meat International facing against

Penissoft, a recent startup. Where will the future lead the penis bird market? Only time will tell us, but one thing is certain:

penis birds are here to stay!

( \

-klerck (Reproduced by AC)

You don't need to know what a gigabyte is- (0, Funny)

purduephotog (218304) | about 11 years ago | (#6390985)

- all you need to know is bigger is better, right women?

3rd p0st! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6390992)

WWGS? [] : What Would Goatse Say?

In other news (5, Funny)

numbski (515011) | about 11 years ago | (#6390998)

In other news:

Terms such as 'baffled', 'flummoxed', and 'jargon' consfuse the general public.
Techs are confused by general public's Lingo.

Sorry, if you're going to write a story about people being confused by big words, please don't use big words to describe how people don't understand big words. Your target audience is then people who can't understand big words. Don't you know we have to dumb down everything for the uneducated people coming out of our schools?

Oh, wait, where is that contradicting report that says the people coming out of our schools are more tech savvy than ever. But they aren't getting educated gaddammmmit. :P

On a side note, techs don't understand techno-babble either:

"The jig is up!"


"The *gig* is up."

"1.21 Jiggawatts???"


"1.21 Gigawatts????"

So exactly how do we all keep screwing up by saying "Gig" instead of "Jig" when we probably heard it right most of our lives?

Re:In other news (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | about 11 years ago | (#6391079)

if you're going to write a story about people being confused by big words, please don't use big words
This isn't about big words, its about Jargon. Jargon is specific to an area (in this case "tech"). You're a (presumably) educated american, but if I were to start talking to you about "40/20s", "sets of six" and "dummy halves", you'd almost certainly be mystified.

Not because its complex, but because its jargon from a field in which you're not very proficient (unless, of course, you're America's only Rugby League fan...)

Re:In other news (2, Insightful)

mr.henry (618818) | about 11 years ago | (#6391181)

So exactly how do we all keep screwing up by saying "Gig" instead of "Jig" when we probably heard it right most of our lives?

This is an interesting piece of computer related pronunication trivia. The word 'gigabyte' (think 'gigantic') is apparently correctly pronounced with the 'j' sound. I've never, ever heard anybody actually say 'jiggabyte' though..

Here. (4, Informative)

Randolpho (628485) | about 11 years ago | (#6390999)

Just tell them to go here: <a href="">The Jargon File</a>.

Reposted with clickable link (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391046)

Just tell them to go here: The Jargon File [] .

If I was a mod.... (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | about 11 years ago | (#6391090)

... this post would get +1 Ironic.

What does the hacker jargon file have to do with (2, Insightful)

jeroenb (125404) | about 11 years ago | (#6391147)

anything? It's not like Bluetooth is explained in it.

wuzzat mean (1)

kc78 (651501) | about 11 years ago | (#6391008)

tell me about it. I've done phone tech support and personal desktop support. The hardest thing is just explaining it to them.

Re:wuzzat mean (1)

tanguyr (468371) | about 11 years ago | (#6391055)

Tech Support: "All double-click on the File Manager icon."
Customer: "That's why I hate this Windows -- because of the icons -- I'm a Protestant, and I don't believe in icons."
Tech Support: "Well, that's just an industry term sir. I don't believe it was meant to --"
Customer: "I don't care about any 'Industry Terms'. I don't believe in icons."
Tech Support: "Well...why don't you click on the 'little picture' of a file 'little picture' OK?"
Customer: [click]

it's a classic []


And the thing about the "ANY" key ? (1) (410908) | about 11 years ago | (#6391112)

that also was a classic... To the point some PC makers decided to change the text so it reads "press Enter key", because much too many ppl was calling asking where the hell the "any" key was...

Linux (5, Funny)

mao che minh (611166) | about 11 years ago | (#6391011)

The most commonly butchered tech-related word. What's that Lie-nucks thing again?

I never thought about it, but we must sound really funny to non-technically inclined people. "Yea, I picked up the Athlon 1800 XP, you know the one point five three three gig, and the dude was selling pc2100 for like 50 a stick of 512 so I figured what the hell, cause Galaxies was running choppy with my old 133 stuff and the 64 meg GeForce two I had."

That must sound as bad as Star Trek dialogue to most people.

Re:Linux (-1, Flamebait)

poptones (653660) | about 11 years ago | (#6391132)

The most commonly butchered tech-related word. What's that Lie-nucks thing again?

Sorry, but in the US it's not "leenoox" it's "linux" - just like it's not "leenoos" and charlie brown, it's linus and charlie brown. If you wanna quibble about minor uses of the language perhaps you won't mind also commenting on the (mis)use of words like "buff-ay" (no, goddamnit, do you buy a "buck-ay" of flowers?) and "bedroom suit" (er... do you mean "suite?") or even "pork" and "beef."

Our cars don't have "bonnets" they have hoods; we don't by "petrol" we buy "gas" or "fuel" and it's not "leenoox" unless you're just trying to show how cool you truly think you are.

What in christ are you babbling about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391156)

Please stop, you sound retarded.

Re:Linux (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391155)

Bollocks. Linux is based on Linus's name, which he pronounces leenoos. In English Linus is pronounced lie-nus, so lie-nux is quite right for anglophones.

Or do you pronounce Paris as par-ree?

It will sort itself out (5, Insightful)

KDan (90353) | about 11 years ago | (#6391015)

Through basic generational education...

Maybe some of the currently active generations don't know what a byte or a megahertz is, but more of each successive generation does know. When, as is likely, computer education will be a solid subject part of the primary school curriculum, this problem will vanish on its own.


Re:It will sort itself out (1)

L. VeGas (580015) | about 11 years ago | (#6391113)

Nah.. only people that want or need to know will care. It's the over-used car analogy again. My wife has heard the word carburetor, but I'll bet dollars to doughnuts she has no idea what it does.

Yea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391016)

"the_helper_monkey writes..."

Yea, but only with the help of 999 of his closest friends and some typewriters.

Seen something like this before.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391017)

I remember on tv (think it was jay leno) where a woman was asked what is a "megahertz" and answered something like "a big hurt, mega hurt". I cracked my balls laughing on that one.

So what? (1)

nanojath (265940) | about 11 years ago | (#6391019)

If you don't know what a gigabyte is, it's hard to know how large of a hard drive you need.

This information isn't exactly difficult to find. If you're planning on investing $.5-2K, it seems like a few hours research at the local library would be in order.

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | about 11 years ago | (#6391072)

I don't know about your local library, but mine is not likely to have any books talking about "gigabytes". More likely they will admonish the user to save up that $5000 for the 386 instead of going for the 286 so they can get the real mode support.

On the other hand, a quick search online will quickly clear up a lot of confusion these people have, unless they get sidetracked by porn and gambling.

Re:So what? (1)

Tingler (56229) | about 11 years ago | (#6391165)

You bring up a good point. If a person wants to buy a new(er) car, they should learn what ABS, AWD, & HP means. If not, I'm sure the friendly used car salesman will show them exactly what they need.

Why shouldn't computers be any different?

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391187)

Knowing what a byte is and how many of them are in a gigabyte does not help the clueless figure out how many gigabytes they need in their hard drive. You and I can take a guess at how much space we'll need. We have a vague notion of how much space the OS will take, how much space we want for games, video, pictures, MP3s, development tools, etc.

Joe Clewliss does NOT know and research at the library won't help him figure it out. Instead, he'll go to Best Buy and ask them how much space he needs and they either will not know any better than he does or just make something up (and try to sell an extended warranty with it).

1 Gig equals... (5, Funny)

GoofyBoy (44399) | about 11 years ago | (#6391020)

... a little less than 2 music CDS. ... about the hard drive space you require for a full install of Diablo 2. ... about 4000 pr0n photos.

Put it into terms that they can understand.

Re:1 Gig equals... (1)

EpsCylonB (307640) | about 11 years ago | (#6391103)

Or Libraries Of Congress ?

hmmmm (1)

jr87 (653146) | about 11 years ago | (#6391021)

I really think that when buying a computer they should give a little standard definition of common computer terms. therefore they may get something close to what they want.

Name a field, and someone will confuse you (5, Insightful)

msheppard (150231) | about 11 years ago | (#6391022)

Name any field (Computers, Engineering, Finance, Medicine, Skateboarding) and if you are not involved, you will get blown away by terminology.


Re:Name a field, and someone will confuse you (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391083)

"Name any field (Computers, Engineering, Finance, Medicine, Skateboarding) and if you are not involved, you will get blown away by terminology."

Right Feild

Re:Name a field, and someone will confuse you (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | about 11 years ago | (#6391160)

>Right Feild

I'm confused.

Re:Name a field, and someone will confuse you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391186)


Re:Name a field, and someone will confuse you (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391177)

I think you've got an epistemological problem with your teleology there, son.

Solution (2, Funny)

worst_name_ever (633374) | about 11 years ago | (#6391028)

It's based on a survey done by AMD asking the definitions of words such as megahertz

I submit that people would be much less confused if AMD would spec its processors in terms of megawatts instead. After all, we already know they are excellent space heaters. ;)

lol (-1)

I POOP ON FAILURES! (685242) | about 11 years ago | (#6391029)

__________________________________________________ _____
|_|_____|_|__________________(_)_____|_|___(_)____ ___|_|
|_|/___\|_|_|_'__\_/___\_'__\|_/___|_|_'__\|_|_'__ /__`_|
|_|_(_)_|_|_|_|_)_|____/_|_|_|_\___\_|_|_)_|_|_|_| _(_|_|
|_|\___/|_|_|_.__/_\___|_|_|_|_|___/_|_.__/|_|_|__ \__,_|

Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted! Reason: Your comment looks too much like ascii art.Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted! Reason: Your comment looks too much like ascii art. Reason: Your comment looks too much like ascii art.Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted! Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Re:lol (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391087)

And a happy Troll Tuesday to you, sir! Great post! I hope Hemos has to take time from his kid's birthday to fix this particular weakness in the Slashcode!

Unfortunatley (2, Insightful) (637314) | about 11 years ago | (#6391032)

Tons of stuff confuses the public, and if organizations like the RIAA can control the definition of terms (MP3 = piracy), than they could help disuade people from pirating (or sharing if that's your angle) music.

What do the British know? (-1, Troll)

RevDobbs (313888) | about 11 years ago | (#6391034)

C'mon, this in on the Beeb... forget about tech jargon, these people don't even know English... what the hell is a lorry, or a lift? I mean, how can you take a country seriously when they say things like "fags give you cancer"?

Re:What do the British know? (-1, Troll)

BiteMeFanboy (680905) | about 11 years ago | (#6391093)

Yeah, when everyone knows that fags give you Aids... whoops going to take a mod beating on that one.

Yeah! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391148)

I certainly don't trust a people who call botulism "steak and kidney pie!"

Is it our fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391037)

That they're not /-r4d k00l l33t h4x0r5?

Sometimes, tech jargon has a purpose (5, Funny)

Adam Rightmann (609216) | about 11 years ago | (#6391041)

In that it can "weed" out the Joe Sixpacks out there who really have no business at all installing software, or hardware. Sadly, once "Joe Sixpack" has installed a DVD-burner, or some software, they start thinking they are computer masters, and rapidly rise to their level of incompetence. Haven't we all been burned by paper MCSE's who can do little but click buttons? Amusing enough at home, but deadly in the workplace.

It's very analogous to the introduction of the vernacular Mass. When Masses were said in Latin, with the priest facing away from the people, it was a much more mysterious, deep experience. Now that English is used for Mass, the people, without the benefit of years in a seminary, have all become amatuer theologians, thinking that birth control, homosexuality and ecumenalism are all okay, instead of being the one way tickets to eternan Damnation that the Holy See has repeatedly declared them to be.

So, I think we need more computer jargon, computer cases only openable by licensed tech, and a return to Latin Mass.

Religion is for the weak, powerless and gullible (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391119)

People should learn to think for themselves and not be lead like mindless sheep.

Re:Sometimes, tech jargon has a purpose (1)

mofochickamo (658514) | about 11 years ago | (#6391162)

In that it can "weed" out the Joe Sixpacks out there who really have no business at all installing software, or hardware.

You're right. Anyone with any muscles belongs anywhere near a computer. Muscles and computer skills are mutually exclusive.

Sadly, once "Joe Sixpack" has installed a DVD-burner, or some software, they start thinking they are computer masters...

Yes, that is sad. Unfortunately, you think the same thing about body building when you do a single sit up.

When Masses were said in Latin, with the priest facing away from the people, it was a much more mysterious, deep experience.

That is because everyone was asleep, dreaming.

Re:Sometimes, tech jargon has a purpose (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 11 years ago | (#6391176)

Thinking that birth control, homosexuality and ecumenalism are all okay, instead of being the one way tickets to eternan Damnation

Damn right I'm going to hell! With all those prissy, stuck-up, non-fornicating, pregnant people in heaven, it would be no fun at all. It's MoodSwing Central dude!

I'll be happy to do a Latin Mass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391182)

... but how will you know that I'm not saying something like:

No kingdom need come,
My will be done,
On Earth, and to Hell with Heaven!

Good news for Linux? (2, Funny)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | about 11 years ago | (#6391042)

I've experienced this problem with lusers before too. At first I was very frustrated, spending hours explaning the logical history underlying the acronames "cd" and "ls" and how they are actually newmonic. After a while, though, I realized that this jargon was actually working for us, not against us. If someone is too stupid to learn and understand some basic terminology, I don't want them dumbing down Linux anyway. It's like Mensa--you have to have a certain amount of brains to get in the door, which makes for a more pleasant experience among the intelligentcia.

Re:Good news for Linux? (1)

BiteMeFanboy (680905) | about 11 years ago | (#6391134)

It's better than Mensa. We can write software to pass their tests, they have to hang Geena Davis.

It changed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391043)

"Only slightly more than half correctly identified the definition of megahertz - a measurement of how many times a part of the processor, called the clock, ticks every millionth of a second."

A couple of hours ago this read "- a measurement of the processing power of the computer."

I wonder why they changed it? :)

Pathetic (1)

GreenCrackBaby (203293) | about 11 years ago | (#6391045)

If the survey they gave those 1500 people is the same as the one on their web site, then that's really pathetic news.

Multiple choice, 3 answers for each, with one being an obviously stupid answer.

And only 3% got the entire thing (7 questions) correct.

I don't buy it (5, Insightful)

Bob Abooey (224634) | about 11 years ago | (#6391048)

The problem here is that the general public shouldn't even be concerned with the tech lingo. That's the job of professionals, not lay people. For instance I don't understand a thing about certain cooking terms, like basting or searing, but that's okay because I'm not a chef, so it doesn't affect me.

The truth is probably that the blame for this is squarely on the head of Microsoft for trying to make the PC ubiquitous, like a toaster, when it's really an extremely complicated technology which the common man should not even try to understand, let alone use to it's full potential. But now that the Genie is out of the bottle, so to speak, it's too late to shove her back in and we (the professional IT community) are left to deal with the aftermath of Microsoft's behaviour.

They (MS) got rich by marketing stuff to people with no business using it and we get the shaft.

YOU FAIL IT (KIND OF) (-1, Offtopic)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | about 11 years ago | (#6391105)

That is truly a skillfully done karma whoring post. I am really quite impressed. Not only are you trying to tie two completely unrelated things (confusing tech jargon with a monopoly abuser), you actually make a valid point (mostly). Nevertheless, computers would have come to laypeople just like the television and it was really Apple and IBM that have been working to make computers as ubiquitous as the toaster.

My father-in-law (4, Funny)

L. VeGas (580015) | about 11 years ago | (#6391050)

"Memory" means how big the hard drive is.

He calls floppies "tapes".

To him the monitor is the computer.

He calls the tower the hard drive.

And he claims that I'm confusing.

He's wrong. (2, Funny)

numbski (515011) | about 11 years ago | (#6391102)

Don't you know that the tower is the MODEM, not the hard drive, for starters.

The monitor is the thing you hold the paper up to for scanning, and that thing label "CD-ROM" is for holding your coffee!

The last two are cliche, but I heard both waaaaaaay too much back when I was a parts jockey for Best Buy (thankfully faaaaar in my past).

In related news... (1, Funny)

Jerk City Troll (661616) | about 11 years ago | (#6391053)

Studies conducted by some large corporation found that the sky is blue, shit is brown (and sometimes green), and that the average accelleration due to gravity on earth is approximately 9.81m/sec/sec.

YOU FAIL IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391174)

Not very funny. YOU FAIL IT

Jeez. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391059)

Hate to be a dick, but, unless you're in your 50s, you really ought to know what most of these words mean by now. It's kind of scary that people my age don't know these things.

Computer ignorance is job security (1)

mikeophile (647318) | about 11 years ago | (#6391061)

If you do tech support, clueless lusers are your bread and butter.

On second thought, let them get outsourced to India.

After a year or two, they will beg for domestic support again.

Not All Bad News (0)

tds67 (670584) | about 11 years ago | (#6391063)

The findings are bad news for the industry, as it suggests that the baffling terms are putting people off buying the latest gadget.

Bad news for the tech industry, perhaps, but good news for the porn industry, as computer terminology like RAM, hard drive, floppy, and the like are having a stimulative effect and increasing the sales of some gadgets.

Even worse in non English-speaking countries (2, Interesting)

jb_nizet (98713) | about 11 years ago | (#6391065)

Tech jargon contains all kinds of english words, which are often used as is, or transformed to look like native words. This is a real problem with non-techie, non-english-speakers.
For example, something like this (in French), generally makes me look like an alien:

"J'ai downloadé un file manager dans le directory des tools, mais il était buggé, et il a crashé le drive".

AssFucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391067)

You openscores losers will never make it in life. Just go out and kill yourselves now.

Gud what a bunch of dumbfucks.

dumb down==remove accurate info (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391070)

look at laptop adverts. I want a 1600x1200 screen, now now many pixels is SVGA, XGA, SXGA,WXGA SWXGA? 1.2 MegaPixels? just tell me what the frigging resolution is!!!

In other news ! (2, Funny) (410908) | about 11 years ago | (#6391074)

Techs are Techs, were created to get by the tech stuff and if possible stay in the basement NOT speaking to users in case they confuse them.

Users are users, and, to copy the BOFH, the day a luser will have access to my Server Room, he'll have to do it over my dead body.

For the rest, they NEVER understood Gigabit, they NEVER understood DHCP and it's all for the better.
Next, they will tell me Users are confused by rocket science and everybody will get Ahhhh !!!

reminds me of the other thread (4, Interesting)

AssFace (118098) | about 11 years ago | (#6391076)

I pointed out on the .NET thread that our company, prior to my arrivial here, paid waaay too much for a website recently because of a misunderstanding in terminology.

One of the owners wanted the website to have a domain name that ended in ".net" because he felt that ".com" was associated with the US, and he didn't want to be associated with them (this company is an offshore company).

That in itself is kind of funny, but then when the company he hired to do the programming was asking him what type of server he wanted it on and what language. He had no clue, but told them that he wanted the ".net" on it.
They thought he wanted ".NET" and started it up.

At some point the misunderstanding was seen on their side, but they just ran with it, seeing that he was pretty clueless and then overbilled us.


He isn't totally clueless, he does know a tiny little bit - but that makes it worse.
He just throws around buzzwords and it is a bit embarrassing/hilarious.

His current thing is that he wants a PDA that plays MP3s, and that has a phone jack directly into it that will let him dial-up and check his e-mail, but also record conversations, but it can't be a Handspring product "because those are crap, and did you see that Palm is buying them out" as he told me.
He was asking me the other day which he should try to get, "64K or 128K" in his MP3 player. I acted like he wrote "M" for megs and left it at that.

He makes my days much longer than they need to be - otherwise, I would be doing more programming and less trying to get crap done for him.

Out of date but... (0, Offtopic)

jhines0042 (184217) | about 11 years ago | (#6391080)

Have you taken the Geek Purity Test lately?

Its a bit out of date. Anyone know if there's been an update?

Another brilliant observation! (3, Insightful)

ACK!! (10229) | about 11 years ago | (#6391081)

Next we will find that most people do not understand history or how their political system is really run!


I had the hardest time trying to explain the difference between memory as in RAM versus disk space to my mom when she looked for a computer.

Then there are all these people that want computers to be as easy to understand and use as a toaster or something. They completely forget the vast numbers of machines and ledgers that the computer in the office for example replaces.

How the hell is something that acts likes a typewriter, a ledger, interoffice communication device and research library (google and the 'Net) supposed to be as easy to use as a single use appliance? Answer it is never going to be that easy. That is not to say that things cannot get a hell of a lot better.

The tech jargon is out there for the geeks among us fixated on the system stats. The regular user sees bigger numbers and ends up buying what all his friends have anyway. Looked deep into sports car numbers lately? Half of that crap is meaningless to me torque to dumbnut ratios for sports suspension and makes it more responsive but has the downside of... You get the picture.

Wow jargon is confusing. I needed a study to tell me this?

Media Jargon?! (1)

seanthenerd (678349) | about 11 years ago | (#6391085)

From the article: Most people are confused and flummoxed by the jargon used to describe new technology, says a survey.

Well, I know the definition of mp3, and html, and bluetooth, and DVR, and hertz, megahertz, gigahertz [...] and I scored 100% on this test, but what does "flummoxed" mean?!

Next on Slashdot: Nerds confused by media lingo!

Okay, here it is:
a : to make indistinct : BLUR b : to mix indiscriminately : JUMBLE c : to fail to differentiate from an often similar or related other

It's the same as 'confuse'.

Re:Media Jargon?! (1)

seanthenerd (678349) | about 11 years ago | (#6391149)

Oops, sorry!

Didn't mean to be redundant, but someone else posted something like this a bit up the page while I was typing it.

I see it all the time (2, Insightful)

mortonda (5175) | about 11 years ago | (#6391088)

In an ISP and computer repair business, you see this all the time.

"Please bring your computer in so we can look at it."
"The whole thing?"
"No, just the main tower."
"Oh, you mean the hard drive?"

Sometimes I can understand that not everyone is this interested in computers, and wouldn't know all th terms.

OTOH, I'm not a bit interested in cars, but I know what an alternator is.

tech jargon quiz (2, Funny)

xirtam_work (560625) | about 11 years ago | (#6391095)

the article has a jargon quiz linked to it on the bbc website. there are seven real easy questions, which of course i got right.

here was the response:

You got 7 right! Have you thought about entering the competition to find the sexiest geek alive?

I'm mean, christ! does basic knowledge equate to sexiness? hopefully!!!!

Re:tech jargon quiz (1)

Lxy (80823) | about 11 years ago | (#6391150)

I got a really high score on the AMD test!!!

Error 404 - Page Not Found

AGP vs. PCI (3, Interesting)

My name isn't Tim (684860) | about 11 years ago | (#6391096)

I work for a Canadian Graphics Board company (bet you can't guess which one... hint it's not Matrox)and you'd be surprised how many people call tech support cause they can't get their new 500$ AGP card to fit in their 500$ computer which only has PCI slots

What's a file? (1)

sdo1 (213835) | about 11 years ago | (#6391097)

The biggest problem I have with novices is explaining what a "file" is. Simple things like directories are a difficult concept to grasp if you have no experience with computers.

Storage and memory are another big issue. There's a lot of confusion out there regarding the difference between fast temporary storage (memory) and slower long term storage (hard drive space) what what they're both used for.

It's maddening sometimes trying to communicate with someone who has very little computer know-how.


Ha! (1)

magnesius666 (672431) | about 11 years ago | (#6391100)

Reminds me of that ol' tech support "joke": Customer: "The coffee tray is broken." Techie: "The coffee tray?" After 10 mins of negotiations, it was revealed that the guy used the CD-ROM to put his coffee mug on. BTW, I only scored 6/7, lost the DVR question :(

Jargon is only half the battle (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 11 years ago | (#6391101)

Tech speak is confusing in it has its own vocabulary, but even if people could understand the vocabulary, there is still the daunting task of understanding the technology. For example, somebody might know that a megahertz is used to determine processor clock speed, but they might not understand that clock speed is not really a good measure of computing power even for the same company. A Pentium 4 1.3GHz will outperform a Celeron 1.3 GHz.

Exactly how many people ... (2)

ip_vjl (410654) | about 11 years ago | (#6391107)

How many people know what 'horsepower' really is? Doesn't stop them from buying cars.

Tech lingo (from any industry/profession) goes above the head of most people. It just means that maybe companies need to spend time explaining what the benefits of a device are ... and not spend so much time praising the specs. Leave the specs there for the informed consumer, but don't expect that someone like my mom will really know what the heck to make of a computer with more gigahertz, but a slower front-side-bus.

I've seen some digital camera makers try to sort out the megapixel confusion by explaining what the size picture you can print (with acceptable quality) will be. That helps to make it accessible to people who don't know a pixel from a hole in the ground. "With this camera, I can do 8x10 pictures, with that one, I can do 5x7 pics." I'd want to know all the specs, but for most people, they just need to know if it does what they want it to do, they don't care what happens behind the scenes to get there.

In other news (1)

revividus (643168) | about 11 years ago | (#6391109)

English-speaking americans have difficulty understanding Japanese.

Lingo not so hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391111)

It's based on smalltalk with some algol thrown in. I bet the public doesn't understand your precious c++ and perl either.

Tech Geeks don't understand Mgmt Jargon (5, Funny)

UID30 (176734) | about 11 years ago | (#6391120)

When my old manager used to talk about "leveraging the synergies inherit in a business relationship", all i ever heard was "blah blah blah more work for you blah blah blah."

It's only fair that when I talk about SMP architectures, S-ATA, Terabytes, 64-bit, distributed model computing, TCP, UDP, server farms, load balancers, and quad-port ethernet adapters ... that he think "blah blah blah boy that sounds expensive blah blah blah."

Social Engineering (2, Funny)

LordoftheFrings (570171) | about 11 years ago | (#6391121)

This is always a good thing for social engineering. Take, for example, this conversation, taken from real life, (not a movie called "Hackers").

*phone rings and gaurd picks up*
Gaurd: Security, Norm speaking.

Dade: Norman? This is Jimmy Tanner speaking. Norm, do you know anything about computers?

Gaurd: Uhhhh... Uhhhhhh..

Dade: Well, Norm, my B.L.T. drive just went A.W.O.L. and I have a big project due for mr. Kawasaki, and if I don't get it in he's going to commit Harry Karry on me.

Gaurd: Uhhhhhhhh...*mumbles*

Dade: Well, you know these Japanese management types. Norm could you read me the numbers off the modem?

Gaurd: uhhhhh....

Dade: It's a little boxy thing with switches.

Gaurd: *reads numbers*

See? Tech jargon is supposed to be confusing so hackers can take over TV stations with hapless security gaurds.

Hmph. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391122)

Is this really news? That when "average" people don't understand something, it's just an ID10T error?

When people refuse to RTFM, clearly the PEBKAC.

Face it, some technology is just too complex to be sufficiently dumbed down for the NASCAR and country music loving set.

If any /.'ers get less than 7 right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6391123)

... I will be EXTREMELY distressed. m

Bad news? I think not. (2, Interesting)

BlueTooth (102363) | about 11 years ago | (#6391124)

"The findings are bad news for the industry, as it suggests that the baffling terms are putting people off buying the latest gadget."

Doesn't sound like very bad news to me. Marketting is the last leg of the journy for a product lifecycle (well, not counting support). If all gadget firms have to do is change their vocabulary to sell more stuff, I'd say they're in decent shape.

In the realm of computers, even the bottom of the barel is more than enough for most people these days, so an uninformed buyer won't even be hurt much by not knowing what Ghz and Gigabytes are. Those of us who do know will continue to look for tech specs on the sidepanel. Who cares if they take specs off the product name (AMD has already headed in this direction with their meaningless numerical designations for the athlon XP line).

I see this all the time (2, Insightful)

GlassUser (190787) | about 11 years ago | (#6391128)

I'm involved in teaching people who have little experience with computers and networks how to use them. They don't know a lot of the terminology. The problem is, they don't care to know it. They, like many in management, want to throw money at a problem and hope it goes away. The result that I see is that this gets them a lot of incompatible proprietary "solutions" that don't do what they want, though they're out a lot of money for it.

I don't know what the solution is. They refuse education, instead preferring someone simply telling them something will work and being frustrated later.

At least it MEANS something .. (4, Informative)

peatbakke (52079) | about 11 years ago | (#6391130)

Bluetooth, MP3, RAM, cache, FIFO .. they mean very specific things, and are well suited for having their own names.

Now, if you want a thrill ride of superfluous jargon, take a gander at the business "self help" section of your local book store.

Or google for something called "Six Sigma."

Business jargoneers have a nasty tendency to rename common ideas, wrap them in market speak to create buzzwords, and resell them to the helpless souls who seem to collect in middle managment.

Surprised? Problem? (3, Insightful)

sourcehunter (233036) | about 11 years ago | (#6391131)

First, does this REALLY come as a surprise to anyone?

And is this really a problem? I know folks who are just now getting a cell phone - and they are 26-27 years old. I don't personally see how they ever lived without one, but I rely on mine for business, and I'm ususally so busy it is the ONLY way to find me. Same with a computer. I NEED to know what GHz, MHz, Bluetooth, WIFI, etc, etc etc is. I WORK in the industry. Does the average joe REALLY need a clue or even need most of this technology in their lives? Does it really even make their lives "easier?" You know what "they" say - "ignorance is bliss."

important (2, Insightful)

Boromir son of Faram (645464) | about 11 years ago | (#6391133)

It's about time people started to acknowledge this issue. While all fields (medicine, physics, philosophy...) have their own specialized jargons, as technology becomes more and more a part of every normal person's life, techspeak is going to prove a significant impediment to widespread computer literacy.

A big part of the problem is that words in computer lingo often refer to lower level concepts that normal users don't (and shouldn't have to) know about or understand. It should be possible to discuss the size of a file or disk without understanding what bits and bytes are, and to be able to discuss relative speeds of computers without understanding the role of a clock signal in a CPU (or even what "CPU" stands for).

An effort should be made to replace these confusing terms with familiar ones that normal people can easily understand through analogy. For example, why not refer to memory "sizes" using mass units? A gram could be defined as equal to a megabyte, making people much less likely to answer the question "how fast is your computer?" with "20 gigabytes," since they will intuitively understand that "20 kilos" cannot be a measurement of speed. Likewise, processor speed could be measured in miles per hour, bandwidth in kilograms per second, &c..

A side benefit is that this would allow Europeans and Americans to use their traditional units, which are easily converted between.

I know why! (0, Troll)

200_success (623160) | about 11 years ago | (#6391140)

British people wouldn't know how much a Library of Congress is, so how would they ever understand our explanations of how much a gigabyte is?

And....? (2)

BMonger (68213) | about 11 years ago | (#6391143)

I don't see what the big deal is. While I understand computers quite well I didn't have a clue as to what I wanted in a TV, a surround sound system, and the like. So I did "research". I browsed around the internet, asked people I knew in the know, and after a bit of reasearch found exactly the best bang for my buck. There are plenty of resources online and even at your local library to understand "things". Go use them.

Listen (2, Insightful)

jdavidb (449077) | about 11 years ago | (#6391144)

If you don't know what a gigabyte is, it's hard to know how large of a hard drive you need.

And if you never listen to what you're told or bother to think about it, it's hard to know what a gigabyte is. I know there's plenty of people who haven't heard, but I just know a lot of people who like to revel in their ignorance. When someone explains something, they grin and say, "Well, that's just too complicated for me." Then they want someone else to work it out for them.

In a land where everyone's proud of not being able to set their VCR clocks (in other words, proud of being too lazy to read simple instructions, or too scatterbrained to follow simple instructions), shouldn't warning bells go off whenever we elect such self-admitted technophobes to Congress and hear them assert, "We've got to get tough on computer crime!"?

Well of course... (5, Insightful)

epiphani (254981) | about 11 years ago | (#6391146)

Of course the general public is not going to understand terms like MegaHertz and Gigabytes. Especially when the very article saying they dont describes MegaHertz as a measurement of how many times a part of the processor, called the clock, ticks every millionth of a second.

Hell, even I wouldnt have defined megahertz that way. If you try and get the general public to understand computers literally, good luck. You need to simply educate them relationally. Tell them that the higher the number of MegaHertz, the more responcive the computer will be - it will act faster. If you're feeling brave, tell the its a measure of how many calculations the computer can do in a certain time period. Even that much might confuse them.

You cant teach people literals when it comes to computers. The average person doesnt need to know, nor care to know that USB is the Universal Serial Bus, which supports up to 128 devices with a maximum cable length of 5 meters. They just need to know that USB is a different way to plug things into your computer.

Caveman Tech Support (4, Funny)

mikeophile (647318) | about 11 years ago | (#6391151)

Wheel, fire, pointed stick?

Could you dumb it down a little. I just don't understand all this technical jargon.

Oh boy (3, Funny)

Faust7 (314817) | about 11 years ago | (#6391163)

Public Confused By Tech Lingo

In other news, the sky is blue, what goes up must come down, and SCO is full of it.

It's difficult... (1)

jdreed1024 (443938) | about 11 years ago | (#6391166)

If you don't know what a gigabyte is, it's hard to know how large of a hard drive you need.

That won't necessarily help you, because companies can't agree on what a gigabyte is. If you take the word at face value, it should be one billion bytes. However, most geeks know that it's 1,073,741,824 bytes (2^30), or 1024MB. And companies use both interpretations when advertising their product. And then there are the instruction manuals which claim that 1GB = 1000MB, which just makes things worse.

The problem is that the terms are just plain wrong. Yes, I know as well as the next person that 1KB = 1024 bytes, but really "kilo-" means 1000. You can debate this all you like, and talk about the "binary prefixes" where kilo = 2^10, and mega = 2^20, but sorry, the Greeks were here long before the geeks, so they get to decide :-)

Of course, I'm not naive enough to think that these broken terms will change, however if you want to blame someone for the public's confusion about units of data capacity, go blame the lazy geek who decided "enh, 1024 is close enough to 1000, I'll just use kilo- for the prefix."

no big news here (1)

EZmagz (538905) | about 11 years ago | (#6391169)

This article reports on something most of us techies/geeks deal with on a very regular basis...think of it this way: How many times have your friends/family/customers come up and asked you what a term (RAM, for example) means? Definitely not new news.

The tech world is not the only world where people get lost with the lingo, however...ever walked into a mechanic's place after getting your car looked at and been overwhelmed by car terms? Or how about going to the doctor's office and wondering if they're speaking English?

One important point to remember is not everyone is as clued in to the wonderful world of technology as we if someone is confused by the terminology, don't be an arrogant ubergeek. Just explain it in terms they understand...remember, anaolgies are your friend!

Just the public? (5, Funny)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about 11 years ago | (#6391180)

Okay, quick quiz.

You're standing with a group of other people, discussing Company X's latest product. One of the people talking throws out an acronym that you've never heard before. You have absolutely no idea what this acronym may mean, as it was mentioned while the person was discussing a framework/language/methodology/technology that you've never heard of before.

Do you:

  • Gently nod your head and maintain a visage of total and unwavering comprehension,
  • Remark, "Oh, good, I was wondering when they'd get around to supporting that natively,"
  • Say, "Odd that they chose to go with [unknown acronym], when [new acronym you just made up on the spot] does better in real-world tests," and hope they don't call your bluff,
  • Step away to get some coffee to keep from being put on the spot (thus revealing your ignorance on the matter,)
  • Say, "Have they managed to work the kinks out of their implementation of [unknown acronym]?" and hope to glean important clues to the nature of what that acronym is from the response, or
  • Say, "Uh-oh--gotta run--just remembered--" and leave the conversation to look up the unknown acronym on Google?

Honestly, are any of us geeks ever willing to admit that we don't inherently recognize and grok every single term that is thrown our way? Isn't that part of being a geek?

Why Should Tech Be Different? (4, Insightful)

CrankyFool (680025) | about 11 years ago | (#6391184)

Of course the public is confused by tech-specific lingo. It's for the same reason I get confused if I try to figure out where the Axle Seal is on my Miata, or what the hell SEC rule 17 CFR Part 270 means. Every major industry has its own lingo that has developed to make intra-industry communication as clear and precise as possible. They're labels, and we strive to make them as specialized as possible.

The problem comes when Tech companies (e.g. IBM) attempt to use these labels to communicate with non-industry people. That we have these labels is not a problem (it is, in fact, a good thing). That we persist in using them with 'outsiders' is.
In the end, it may be better to tell someone they can put 1000 hours of music on an iPod (which Apple has done) than "5 Gb of MP3s encoded at 128kbit." It sure is less precise -- what happens if you use 196kbit? Does it support Ogg? But hey, the vast majority of people who Apple is targeting to purchase iPods not only don't care, they wouldn't understand these differences.

I'm not arguing for a dumbing down of all tech communications -- when I buy a RAID card, I want to know what RAID levels it can support -- but some products are naturally designed for outsiders and some are naturally designed for insiders. When in doubt, include both types of lingo (how would that work? I have no clue -- "3.2Ghz CPU with an 800 MHz FSB. / This processor is wicked fast and needs a really modern motherboard -- ask your kid for help!")
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