Jargon --  11/29/05

Every profession has its jargon. If you were to listen to a group of doctors or lawyers or programmers or plumbers or carpenters having a quiet discussion among themselves, you would surely find fair sized chunks of their conversation to be incomprehensible.

I've been a computer professional for the past thirty years and find that computer jargon is part of my everyday speech. (As computers became widespread, I think a lot of computer jargon oozed into everyday speech for most people.) My computer career has been spent in the business world (even the first third of it, when I was working for a university, was really fairly business-oriented -- I was in Administrative Systems, not computer research -- that is, I wrote the code to keep track of course enrollment and print transcripts, etc.) and so I have been exposed to a lot of business jargon. (Enough that, at times, I thought I really should have enrolled in an MBA program since I could already speak the language.)

Computer jargon has slipped into business vocabulary. Marketing types seem to love adopting the latest computer buzzwords into marketing hype.

I have become fond of saying that if you can work "seamlessly integrated" and "functionally encapsulated" into the same sentence while keeping a straight face, you are bound for success in information technology marketing.

Sometimes, however, I think so many of these buzzwords start buzzing around in someone's brain until a meltdown situation occurs and absolute nonsense spills from their fingertips onto their keyboard.

The other day I was on a conference call with Carol and Keith, colleagues on my team -- Carol was laughing about a "sentence" she had just come across in a course she was reviewing. She shared it with us via our instant messaging tool. Here it is:
The integration developer is concerned with defining interfaces and maps between interfaces, business objects and data maps for mapping between business objects and how data objects affect relationships between data in disparate backends.

Yeah, okay, this is probably made up of two or three sentence that just melted down and the data objects mapped to the interfaces and the interfaces oozed all over the data maps. Or something like that.

And it does not make quite as much sense as Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" --

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

I'm serious about that -- 'way back in my days teaching in public schools (decades ago!) I used to use Carroll's poem in grammar lessons, teaching students that they could analyze the sentence structure and grammar in "Jabberwocky" and that they could figure out what part of speech each word was serving by function, even in the case of nonsense words.

And, finally, a picture, just because I felt like it... This was taken just four or five minutes past four in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day on Main Street in Wakefield, RI.

jimsjournal -- on the Web since September 26, 1996!

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