As technology moves forward, the English language sometimes takes a step backward. You can thank public relations professionals, CEOs and technology journalists for that. Whether grammatically incorrect or simply annoying, here's our list of 23 overused tech buzzwords that are painful to hear.
These buzzwords are overused and abused
But don't feel too bad if you're guilty of using some of this lingo: For every one of these terms, we can identify a member of our staff who use it regularly (the rest of us just secretly scoff). And, of course, you'd never read any of these phrases in the PC Advisor reviews section, would you?
1. 'Dot-com' - as in 'the dot-com sector had a strong fiscal quarter' - is a victim of progress: It's no longer especially relevant to distinguish web businesses from 'bricks-and-mortar' (another outdated term) companies. In fact, if your company isn't on the web by now, you're doomed.
2. 'Tweener' originally referred to a US basketball player who was too tall and slow to be a true guard. But referring to gadgets that straddle two or more categories or usage patterns - such as tablets, which can be viewed as a midpoint between phones and laptops - as 'tweeners' is just obnoxious. Knock it off.
3. 'Visionary' has some validity as applied to, say, Joan of Arc, but the term has been abused for decades as a way of offering fawning praise to tech entrepreneurs of all stripes, regardless of how derivative their products are. Double points if a CEO describes himself as a visionary.
4. 'Convergence', which once described an important concept in technology, now says practically nothing, given that every gadget you own represents a convergence of at least 10 other things.
5. iPhone (or anything else) 'killer' is probably the most overused metaphor of all time in tech headlines. We disavow any knowledge of our ever having used this bit of hyperbole ourselves.
6. 'Game-changing' is the kind of trite, nonsensical piffle you get when sports metaphors and nerd metaphors converge in the hands of a journalistic tweener. This one needs to be buried.
7. Does the word 'solution' have any discrete meaning anymore? Does it ever involve actually solving something? Spare us.
8. 'Bandwidth' is not a mental function unless you're a RoboCop or a Terminator - nor is it a monetary one. What you really mean is 'attention' or 'time' or 'additional resources'.
9. In a group setting, the phrase 'let's take this offline' is acceptable only if the meeting is in fact online. Which it usually isn't. Similarly, 'You wanna take this outside?' doesn't work as an escalation of an alfresco disagreement.
11. 'Social graph' is a marketing term that means... well, we have no idea what it means, and we suspect those who use it don't either.
12. When IT administrators map out their networks, they typically draw a little cloud to signify the internet. But calling the internet 'the Cloud' is taking things a little too literally. (We never liked 'Saas' much, either.) And the spin-off term 'cloudsourcing' must bear the bulk of the blame for the truly execrable 'crowdsourcing' that followed in its wake.
NEXT PAGE: Form factor and bells and whistles
- These buzzwords are overused and abused
- Form factor and bells and whistles