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Help me write my dictionary of tech terms. I mean, er, help me ‘facilitate’ my 'moonshot'
Behind this mask I ask: Who do you love?
Did you spot any amusing April Fool stories this year?
Me neither. So I asked around, only to be told by fellow journalists that spoof news reports published on 1 April are these days considered A Bad Thing because they promote fake news and confuse SEO. Simply asking such a question means I am a supporter of fake news and therefore makes me Just Like Hitler.
As a youngster, even before I took my Zippo to the Reichstag, I used to enjoy hunting down the April Fool article in each newspaper and in TV news programmes. It was an intellectual challenge: what should I believe just because it’s “on the news” and what do my juvenile powers of logical reasoning tell me? If anything, April Fools taught me to identify fake news long before the expression was coined.
I also feel that it isn’t beyond the capability of technological endeavour to add the text [April Fool] within an H1 tag on the morning of 2 April.
The real problem in the po-faced modern era, however, is that every news story already reads like an April Fool. That’s how utterly bonkers the real world has become. If a news report sounds humdrum and banal, it’s probably been made up.
For example, I thought I had stumbled across a spoof when I read that a virtual “Space Nation” called “Asgardia” had closed its call for applications by people who wanted to be locked up in isolation for a year.
Everything about the tale screamed FAKE: that 60 people from 18 countries had applied to be put in prison for 12 months; the very idea of a Nation in Space; its silly name; that its parliament is chaired by serial loon Lembit Öpik. And the way the announcement was made on 1 April was a giveaway.
But no, behind the mask it was all true. The Space Nation is a real virtual thing. The voluntary lock-me-away project is to be a genuine, scientifically monitored isolation test of people’s ability to cope during long periods of being cooped up, such as during space travel, colonising Mars or when Netflix releases the next series of The Crown. If all goes well, the year-long test will begin this November.
Besides, April Fools are not possible in the Space Nation – not for lacking in fools but because there are no Aprils in space. What Earth-based western civilisation usually refers to as 1 April is known as “7 Taurus” in Asgardia. It’s a whole new terminology.
Given that tech business and the yoof alike enjoy working new terminology into the language, based on vacuous punk-science puffery, we all may have to learn the Asgardian calendar simply to communicate with our Space Children.
It’s just one example of many in which time-honoured definitions of everyday terms have shifted to mean something quite different, or entirely unnecessary new words are malapropised from nowhere. Pivot. Tangibles. Leverage as a verb. Learning as a noun. Oh don’t get me started on the meaning of R’n’B.
A more obvious example, however, is that hoary business of Artificial Intelligence. Looking behind the mask again, this tech term used to refer to the fanciful sci-fi concept of a future computer that would be able to think and reason for itself. Today, as far as I can work out, it means anything that can run on batteries.
To facilitate a better understanding the non-tangibles – i.e. whatever the fuck is going on around me – I have begun to build my own Dictionary of Modern Tech Terminology, which I call my Lexicon Testiculorum. Here’s what I have recorded so far (i.e. since Monday)…
A fantasy invention; something that doesn’t exist. For example, the real-world profitability of a billion-dollar tech company once the angel investment pulls out.
Shackled; tied up; held down; the practical application of slavery. As in “a tethered workforce”.
The result of poor posture among deskbound users within a tethered workforce. A completely new affliction unique to the modern era; no relation whatosoever with the “Ooh I have a bit of a stiff neck” of yesteryear. Completely different.
Products that have physical form in a non-virtual space; previously known as “things”. Possibly also the eating organs of a nuclear-mutated orange.
Mutual agreement between interested parties leading to greater success. Ha ha, just kidding! Actually it means “We’re all equally out of control and none of us knows what we’re doing”.
The same thing as “change” but with double the syllables to give it extra authority; it sounds a bit spreadsheety too, so you sound extra-more cleverer.
An expression used to demonstrate one’s poor grasp of primary-school-level grammar. As in “What were your learnings from this fast-failing synergy pivot?”
When you’ve swallowed your passport.
A multifunctional verb that can suggest anything you want it to. Nobody will understand what you mean but everybody will be too embarrassed to ask. As in “Bitcoin has facilitated $1tn in value” or “My scrum leader’s pep talk has facilitated constipation” or even “Yes, you may need to pivot on the seat to facilitate that shit”.
What good start-ups do. Bad ones insist on being recklessly successful and profitable.
A Tesla EV. A crashed Tesla is a twisted firestarter.
A very happy emu.
A cover-up scandal involving Tesla’s owner.
Consuming your company’s own products. If your company does not manufacture dog food, it means eating dog food for the sheer hell of it.
What a tethered workforce does for three weeks leading up to their annual vacation.
Did you spot the spoofs? Ha, gotcha – there aren’t any, they’re all true! 7 Taurus Fool!
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing. From time to time, I will bring you additions and updates to the LexiTesti. Please feel free to contribute. Oh, and R.I.P, Ryuichi.