Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Learning the Lingo of the Electronic Age. (Personal Computing)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Learning the Lingo of the Electronic Age. (Personal Computing)

Article excerpt

As if the world of computers and the Internet isn't difficult enough, it also comes with its own vocabulary. Just as with any other field, you can't walk the walk unless you talk the talk.

Acronyms, jargon and buzzwords serve several purposes. They condense complicated concepts into shorthand words and phrases, saving time. They help separate the insiders from the outsiders. And they can confuse the heck out of you.

If you're a "newbie" and want to become a "digerati," you've got to learn the lingo. Fortunately, help can be either a click or an arm's length away.

NetLingo is both a Web site and a just-published 528-page book. Created by Erin Jansen and Vincent James, both resources provide definitions of more than 3,000 modern technology terms, including 1,200 SMS ("short message service") acronyms.

Co-author Jansen has been around the cyberblock a few times. She's been an Internet consultant since 1994, building and promoting Web sites for clients in the United States, Great Britain, Germany and France. Among the sites she's worked with are CNET, OfficeDepot.com and CareerMosaic.com.

I asked Jansen what she regards as the most important terms to know in the Information Age. Here's what she came up with:

E-MAIL & SPAM

E-mail is the "killer app" of the Internet, the single most widely used and indispensable tool. Its nemesis is "spam" (the name comes from a Monty Python movie), also called "unsolicited commercial e-mail" (UCE).

Spam gunks up people's "in-boxes." Variations of spam include "meatloaf"--unsolicited personal e-mail, "velveeta"--excessive cross-postings in Usenet discussion groups, "fram"--spam sent to friends and family, and "SPIM"--spam sent by "instant messaging" or IM.

DOWNLOAD

Every time you're connected to the Internet, you're "downloading," or transferring data from a "remote" computer to your "local" computer.

This applies, among many things, to MP3 songs. MP3 is short for"MPEG-1, audio layer 3," and MPEG in turn is short for "Motion Picture Experts Group," which is the standards body that created this file format.

MP3 makes sharing music over the Internet efficient and controversial, since there's now less incentive to buy music, which has caused music CD sales to drop along with music industry revenue.

OPT-IN, OPT-OUT

When you see a checkbox on a Web page that says, "send me info about such and such," which often involves receiving advertising via e-mail, you can choose to "opt-in" by checking it. …

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