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Buzzword Babylon

John Baer

Our language, and especially the language of the technology industry, is constantly being inundated with new words. Some of these words are "legitimate", and others are merely farcical buzzwords. Who's to say which are which? I say, "If the word fits, use it!"

This column is dedicated to highlighting a few of these new words that have found their way into the current lexicon. I've chosen the following words because either they are related to technical communicating or they are just plain fun.

Automagically is used when the user knows what the end result has to be but doesn't know the technical details.
Example:
"Our program will automagically create a window on your desktop."

Evergreen is used to describe a Web site that is updated on a daily or other frequent basis.
Example:
"Because our Web site is evergreen, its data is always right!"

Hyperarchy is an excessive office hierarchy where at least twenty levels of management pecking orders separate the receptionist from the CEO.
Example:
"Given the hyperarchy of his new company, Mark figured he'd be a VP in about seventyfive years."

Slice and dice is to break a body of information down into smaller parts so it can be understood better.
Example:
"Better slice and dice the spec so the marketing crowd will get it."

Sosofo (specification of a sequence of flow objects) is a set of statements that describes how a sequence of document elements fits into a document.
Example:
"That document is gibberish; please send its sosofo!"

Twip (one-twentieth of a point) is a measure used in laying out space on a page or other area that is to be printed or displayed on a computer screen.
Example:
"It looks all right, but you might want to move it over a twip or two."

Zombie is an abandoned and out-of-date Web site.
Example:
"That old Web site has been a zombie for months."

Heard any cool, interesting or funny buzzwords lately? Please send them to John Baer (along with an example of correct usage) at jbaer at vanteon.com.

After several years of selling scientific instruments, followed by several more of software tech support, John Baer became a technical writer in 1992. He writes end-user documentation for custom software and web applications, creating hard copy manuals and online help systems. Like most of us, John is a devoted "Web-head" and is also a self-proclaimed Word Man.

Page last modified on Thursday, August 31, 2000 08:00:00pm EDT
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