Oh my... the cynicism is coming out here, "meaningless buzz words" teacher conferences at which nothing useful for educating is accomplished... OK.... I understand that... Here is something I wrote in 1995-6 for an introductory training program aimed at middle management and semi-professionals in companies changing over to Windows 95.
The initial idea of Starting Point for Windows95 was as a collection of handy computing terminology. Like in any specialist industry, jargon plays a very large role in the understanding of computing. People who have been involved in computing develop terminology to describe what it is that they are doing, often to the disgust of people around them who are not involved in computing.
The main source of that jargon has been the computer scientists and engineers who started the trend in the early days of computing, when computers were right up there with the eternal mysteries of life. Computer scientists were living in so rarefied an atmosphere that they could barely be understood by mere mortals. Coupled with the general academic love for obscuring even the most simple ideas behind the most complex of jargons, it was inevitable that a computer oriented sub-set of the English language would develop.
To make matters worse, those dour faced professionals were joined by a new generation of technocrat, the computer nerds. This new group wanted to keep this techno-world to themselves, and they grew new words to describe events in computing to wear, like badges of membership. If someone didn’t understand the jargon, then they certainly “were not one of us”. To compound this worsening situation a new phenomenon occurred, Star Trek.
Fans of any of the incarnations of Star Trek, listen in rapt silence to the engineers discuss technical matters with the Captain. Actors use a made up jargon that relates to specific elements of whatever star ship they happen to be on. It doesn’t matter that it is complete nonsense, avid fans have been contributing to the consistency of that jargon for so long that it hangs together, it sounds reasonable and realistic. Many of those fans, and contributors, are also computer nerds and they love the sort of nonsense that emanates from any Trek engineering officer. They have, unfortunately, transferred that love of nonsense to their computing world, solidifying the badge of “us”.
The problem is that academics justify the assassination of the language by arguing that “the terminology is specific and descriptive”. Specific to what? Descriptive of what? and the key question, Who can understand it? Why, only the members of Club Silicon, in short, them who are “us”.
There are two points here, firstly, the jargon is really a collection of different ideas of what is specific and descriptive, and second, it is really easy to understand, if someone writes a book that de-mystifies the jargon. Unfortunately this is not that book, that one got lost in the need to explain Windows95 in a more simple way. It is hoped that this booklet does that.
Some things just do not change..