Tech Jargon: The Latest Excuse For Employee Slacking

from the wipe-it-out dept

We’ve certainly noted the problems with techie jargon before. From intimidating buyers to confusing people into buying something to being a security threat, tech jargon is often complained about. The latest such survey says that it’s killing productivity, as three-quarters of people asked claim that they waste an hour or more each week deciphering tech jargon. An hour or more a week? That seems extreme. It may depend on the job that you do, obviously, but once you do figure out what a certain piece of computer jargon means, you’re usually set for life on that particular piece of jargon. It’s hard to see how it would be a weekly thing. And, sure, new jargon shows up, but on a weekly basis and requiring that much study? Seems a bit questionable. There may, indeed, be too much tech jargon out there, but it’s hard to see it having that big an impact on time worked for that many people.

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Comments on “Tech Jargon: The Latest Excuse For Employee Slacking”

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Anonymous of Course says:

Re: Tech Jargon???

I agree, jargon evolves within an industry to save time. It’s only an encumbrance to the neophyte or the outsider. After more than a DECade at one employer, I was still amazed by conversations that consisted of little more than acronyms and abbreviations. Jargon exists because it saves time for the people that develop it and use it consistently.

James Moffitt (user link) says:

Tech jargon

I too find it extremely hard to believe that anyone would spend an hour per week trying to decipher tech jargon. I have been doing tech support now for 16+ years and most folks ask me “what do you mean” when I use an acronym that they are not familiar with. They dont have to do any research, I do it for them on the spot. Every industry has its own unique language and set of terminology. I guess that since everyone has jumped on the technology bandwagon for the sake of faster world class customer support to their customers (we hope) that our industry trancends all across the board with regards to this perceived problem.

Kevin Trumbull says:

Jargon? Try learning the NAMES for things....

It’s fairly universally understood that referring to all cars as Fords, or when asked which vehicle you drive saying Chevy is stupid.
Why not so with computers? Where I work, the employees call LCD projectors “Proximas” (a company that makes Projectors), and almost any part of Office “Microsoft”. I never know whether they mean “Word”, “Excel”, or something else. For some reason they actually call Powerpoint by it’s name.
Knowing the name for a program is not Jargon. Referring to “Easy Grade Pro” (a grade book app) as “IG Pro” (a competing gradebook app) is just dumb. Referring to “Word” as “Microsoft” is also stupid.
Once people stop using pet names, and completely incorrect names for things, then they have earned the right to complain.
As a tech I’ve done my part. I don’t call memory RAM. I don’t refer to clock speed, I simply say “Faster” or “Slower”. I make sure to specify storage for hard drives, and explain if neccesary. I use small words when possible. My point is that as techs many of us work with degreed individuals who refuse to learn the barest essentials of the equipment that it’s their job to use. RTFM, I say.

Boo says:

Re: Jargon? Try learning the NAMES for things....

You are onto something by saying faster/slower instead of referring to clock speeds. I think that given that we are IT professionals it does fall on our shoulders to insulate users from having to learn too much about what goes on under the hood.
I think users are on a learning curve. Just like motorists know what an exhaust pipe is, bit by bit people are going to come to terms with the concepts of a drivers and dlls – even if they dont ever learn how they work. They will get there – eventually

Kevin Trumbull says:

Re: Re: Jargon? Try learning the NAMES for things....

I think users are on a learning curve. Just like motorists know what an exhaust pipe is, bit by bit people are going to come to terms with the concepts of a drivers and dlls – even if they dont ever learn how they work. They will get there – eventually

I’m not sure that it won’t be willful ignorance that prevails. It’s amazing how many people don’t even attempt to learn something, instead calling a tech and waiting an hour for it to be done for them. This includes things as simple as setting up an Outlook profile (which involves remembering “Exchange server” and “companymail1″ or “companymail2″). I refuse to play this game, always making them sit and enter the information themselves. I work in the educational sector now, which is even worse than corporate america in this regard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Jargon? Try learning the NAMES for things....

This is the *wrong* approach. Yes, you make it easier on the user by using simple terms, but the trade-off is that you perpetuate their lack of understanding until the next time they ask the exact same question. Yes, you may have to explain it more than once, but eventually they’ll get it. Education is both the problem and the answer in this situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

We had two lawyers come down to give us our annual corporate ethics briefing last year. Whenever someone asked a question that could be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” they couched the answer in so much legalese gobbledygook that nobody knew what the hell the answer meant. The only answer they gave that anybody understood was “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

Al Michael says:

Tech jargon

September 23, 2005
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

It has been my experience that once I have setteled on a useful and contextual description of most tech jagon I find I can understand and use it fully. As the author of this comment correctly implies, it seems likely that a person who needs an hour per week to assimilate this information is simply looking for an excuse to explain their wasted time.

Ben Mc (user link) says:

Over and over again

I’ve explained the same jargon to people over and over and over again. Sometimes its the same people calling, asking how to access their webmail every week. People write important things down on sticky notes and think that’s going to make their life easier.
It wastes 2 hours of my week because people can’t remember tech jargon.

Precision Blogger (user link) says:

`It's easy to spend an hour a week deciphering jar

I doubt most people have jobs subject to this problem, but when you do, you spend more than 1hr/wk. Consider what happens when you have to read a 200 page document that refers to 150 unfamiliar acronyms! You have to keep referring to what they mean, and the definitions do not sink in quickly.

There are lots of such documents in the tech industries. If you are writing new kinds of software or bidding on projects, or reviewing regulations affecting your work, or writing specifications, you run into these docs all the time.
– Precision Blogger

DigitalBomb (user link) says:


I do not see a difference between tech “jargon” like RAM or OS and Internet Lingo like “LOL” or “WTF?”. Except perhaps, that internet lingo actually angers me with its blatent promotion of communication laziness. Tech “jargon” is used to save time on the job. But what if I am installing switches and hubs for a school’s library and someone tells a joke and I yell “ROFL!”? Does not exactly make me sound intelligent to yell “ROFL”.

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