My WOTY List

Gareth Branwyn garethb2 at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Jan 3 21:32:18 UTC 2002

If anyone reading this is at the ADS meeting, can you please print out this
message and give it to Allan or Wayne Glowka? I sent it (late as usual)
to Allan and haven't heard back. He may not be checking his mail in SF.

Many thanks,

Gareth Branwyn's Jargon Watching 2001

Here are my selections for new words 2001. As always, I've not only
included a list of interesting jargon and slang from the realms of
technology, science and online culture, but I've also tried to connect
the dots on some of the terms in search of emerging trends. Not
surprisingly, terms related to terrorism and surveillance technologies
were prevalent, as were words relating to the continued tech sector
plummet. A new semantic field emerged around the growing popularity of
volunteer wireless networks ("parasitic grids") being built in many
large cities based around the "Wi-Fi" wireless networking standard. Look
for more terms related to this technology (and the rapidly growing
subculture around it) in 2002, especially as it begins to impact the
telephone companies' very expensive answer to it, third-generation (or
"3G") high-speed wireless. - Gareth Branwyn

A downloadable or Web-based game made for the express purpose of product
placement. See: pop-unders, gatored.

All You Base Are Belong to Us
This Japenglish phrase from a late '80s video game became the absurdist
meme-du-jour, showing up on college campuses, on websites, in "webeos"
(Web-only videos), on T-shirts, etc. The profusion of images and other
media featuring the phrase led to the term "AYB content."

apology bonus
Money paid by technology companies to students who they promised to hire
but couldn't afford to because of a slowed economy. See: post-crash
realism, dot-orging.

Slang term for methane when used as a fuel source. Spotted on an online
discussion board about alternative energy sources. [Note: Obviously a
stunt word, and one I've heard used only in this forum. Included here
for comic relief.]

The practice of monitoring a city's hospital admission records,
especially in an effort to detect spikes in symptoms that could provide
early indication of a bio-weapon attack. A.k.a. "hospital surveillance."
See: powder jobs, terror sex.

Leaving the white water rapids of the dot-com sector for the calmer
waters of a dot-org. See: apology bonus, post-crash realism.

facial profiling
The use of surveillance cameras, "faceprinting" software and law
enforcement databases to secretly videotape and attempt to identify
known criminals and terrorists in a crowd, such as one entering a sports
arena or other public space. See: passface.

Being bombarded by pop-up ads, often from a competitor of the site
you're viewing (e.g., an coupon pops up while you're shopping at The term gets its name from Gator, the ad-feeding
application that's increasingly being bundled with popular file-sharing
programs. See: advergame, pop-unders.

hit my clip
Synonymous with "page me," "clip" being youth/street slang for a pager.
See: impoverished display.

impoverished display
A small, low-quality screen on a handheld device that is too cramped to
be useful. See: hit my clip.

obliteration application
Name given to a copy-protection scheme Hollywood would like built into
future digital TVs and recording devices. The software would control how
often content could be copied to another machine ("copy once," "copy
never," etc.). See: PVR.

Term coined by Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times for the growing
cultural anxiety over being connected everywhere, all the time. [via
Paul McFedries' WordSpy]

parasitic grids
The controversial name given to the ad hoc wireless networks being set
up in many major metropolitan areas. Computer users with broadband Net
connections set up a wireless access node using 802.11b (a.k.a. "Wi-Fi")
technology and offer free high-speed Internet to anyone within wireless
range (who has a Wi-Fi card in his/her computer). The phone companies,
who are going to be spending millions on a new high-speed wireless
infrastructure, are understandably nervous about this new brand of
volunteerism. A.k.a. "community wireless" (probably the term that will
stick) and "personal telco." See: Wi-Fi 5, wilding.

A scan of a human face that is used instead of a password as part of a
biometric security system. See: facial profiling. [via Paul McFedries' WordSpy]

pop-under ads
As the dot-com marketplace dot-bombed, and advertisers and websites
became desperate for ad exposure, aggressive advertising in the form of
pop-under ads became commonplace. These ads tuck under your main browser
window so that you encounter them as you're closing other active
windows. See: advergame, gatored

post-crash realism
The bracing sobriety that has swept the dot-com world, leading many to
be more cautious about their online projects and techno-utopian
prognostications. Coined by editors at Esquire to help define a shift in
editorial approach, the term took on an even deeper significance after
9-11. [Note: This term has not been seen outside of Esquire, I just
thought it was an interesting neologism.] See: dot-orging, sneakers-up.

powder jobs
What "Hammer Teams" (Hazardous Materials Emergency Response") dubbed the
calls they were making to check out suspicious envelopes and white
substances during the Anthrax attacks and subsequent hysteria. See:
bio-surveillance, terror sex.

[Personal Video Recorder] The name that finally stuck for hard
drive-based TV recording devices such as TiVo and ReplayTV, beating out
several other terms like "Hard Disk Recorder" (HDR) and "Personal TV"
(PTV). See: obliteration application.

Said of a dot-com that has died. A play on the idiom "belly-up" and
reminiscent of the older hacker slang "casters-up," used to describe a
broken or dead computer. See: apology bonus, dot-orging, post-crash
realism. [via Paul McFedries' WordSpy]

terror sex
The "booty calls," relationship reunions, and comfort sex that
reportedly occurred after 9-11. Some have posited that a 9-11 baby boom
may even result. Also dubbed "post-disaster sex," "end-of-the-world
sex," "Apocalypse sex," and "Armageddon sex." See: bio-surveillance,
powder jobs.

Warhol worm
A piece of malicious software (theoretical, for now), that could infect
every vulnerable server on the Net within fifteen minutes.

Wi-Fi 5 (802.11a)
The Wi-Fi ("Wireless Fidelity") standard grew steadily in '01, with the
first iteration of it, 802.11b being pushed as a wireless home
networking solution. This version of the standard operates in the 2.4GHz
radio range (which can interfere with 2.4GHz telephones and microwave
ovens). By year's end, a new version, 802.11b was demonstrated. This
flavor of Wi-Fi works in the less crowded 5GHz range and is much faster
than its 11b sibling. See: parasitic grids, wilding.

[Short for "Wireless Internet LAN Discovery"] The practice by wireless
hackers (a.k.a. "whackers") of traveling around a neighborhood looking
for Wi-Fi (802.11b) networks to access (or attack). A.k.a. "war
driving," a variation on the earlier hacker term "war dialing" (the
automated dialing of phone numbers looking for venerable computer
networks to attack). See: parasitic grids, Wi-Fi 5.

women of cover
Islamic women who wear traditional dress, i.e. head coverings and modest
clothing. The phrase was apparently coined by President Bush (or one of
his speechwriters). There is an older, more established phrase, "women
who cover," which he may have meant.  [I think this is a prime candidate
for Word of the Year. Unlike more obvious choices such as "ground zero"
and "9-11," this term beautifully data-compresses many of the
complexities of our post-9-11 world. It is a fitting coinage in a world
where we drop food and bombs at the same time, where late-night talk
show hosts make "Dude, where's my camel?" and Gore-has-a-Taliban beard
jokes while the President is speaking from a Mosque about the
peace-loving religion of Islam, and where a conservative president uses
such a painfully PC expression in the same speech is which he vigorously
rattles the American sabre.]

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