Article on computer slang in the Times

Gareth Branwyn garethb2 at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue Jun 27 18:20:57 UTC 2000

> From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 12:16:40 -0400
> Subject: Article on computer slang in the Times
> On the first page of today's Arts section (6/27/00) in the New York Times,
> Michiko Kakutani, the Times' current principal book reviewer, writes about
> computer slang:
> When the Geeks Get Snide
> Computer Slang Scoffs at Wetware (the Humans)
> This can be downloaded from the Times web site and Nexis/Lexis.  She cites
> Gareth's Jargon Watch and other apparently reputable sources...

Well damn me with faint praise :-)

The piece is not bad, but she misses one important component in this
lexicon: HUMOR! As I point out in Jargon Watch, and when talking about
online slang, a lot of this language (especially the material compiled in my
column and book) is not used in daily conversation, but more often as a
water cooler punch line -- as a way of getting a laugh and calling attention
to our new "wired" condition. I don't think there are many people, deep geek
or otherwise, who use terms like "bio-break" or "404" in everyday speech.

It is true, as the article makes clear, that these words point to a lot of
issues about what some post-modern academics might call "cyborganization,"
the leaking of human into machine and the accelerated migration of
technology into our lives (and into our flesh). I think that too often,
people looking into the realm of "cyberculture" fail to see the humor, irony
and sophistication with which many of these words are used.

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