Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Upgrading My (Tech) Dictionary

Singapore scores again, this time on gadget ownership.

Last week, research firm The Nielsen Company revealed that Singapore is ranked No.2 in their global survey on entertainment technology ownership.

I am not at all surprised by the finding.

For a while, I have noted the very high rate of mobile phone usage here. The survey which said that Singapore has the 'highest rate of mobile phone ownership in the world' only goes to confirm it. Mobile phone penetration rate here is almost 130%.

Every year, major IT trade shows such as SITEX, COMEX and PC Show are sure crowd pullers. The visitor rate in 2008 was higher than previous years and there was no sign that the buying mood was affected by the gloomy economic downturn in any way.

People around me further convince me that the survey results are right. There is hardly anyone I know who does not have a gadget or two at any one time. Many I know carry impressive top of the line gadgets which promise to do many technology somersaults.

Take mobile phones for instance. Each time I spotted a new tech-babe I would go 'wow' and eagerly quizzed the proud owner on the stunts the gizmo can perform. Most of the time, my curious enquiry ended with some mild disappointment.

The thing is, many people are buying cutting-edge technology but often do not understand the terms that describe what their device actually does. The technology industry is highly guilty of over-using acronyms and that does not help consumers to grapple with the fast-evolving technology concepts.

If you belong to the group who is proficient in tech lingo, many others may be intimidated by your high level of knowledge snobbery. Each time you blabber away insensitively you may just make those around you feel totally out of place.

I take a casual browse in the newspapers at some mobile phone advertisements and struggle to make sense of the endless list of acronyms used by the advertisers. There is a tendency for these eager promoters to over-rate consumer's knowledge on seemingly limitless new terminologies used to describe their products.

According to statistics, local users change their mobile phone every 12 to 18 months. In this aspect, I am rather monogamous and I will keep my phone as long as it stays faithful to me. However, whenever there is a new kid in town, I would check it out.

My tech-savviness is average and I am usually comfortable when reading mobile phone reviews. However, I still feel that I am often being bamboozled by new jargon that kept coming at me faster than my little brain could cope with.

You could almost see the 'hour glass' flashing above my head when I read a review that goes like this .....

"It has a sexy body at 98g and it is covered with shiny high quality plastic that matches its class. Its slim build is not achieved at the expense of screen size. The 3-inch screen is great for viewing your DivX and XviD movies. When snugged comfortably in your palm, you can choose to work on either the soft or hard QWERTY keys. It comes with WiFi and Bluetooth and you get connected on the fly. Thanks to the 7.2 Mbps HSDPA connectivity, browsing the web is such a breeze ... blah blah blah.. more tech jargons ."

Then the review went on to describe about the camera in great details. For a moment, I forgot that I was reading a review on mobile phone. I continued to be bombarded by new acronyms and tech terms.

New words with new meanings are created everyday in the tech world. Wait a minute... should I say, old words are given new meanings everyday in the tech world? I think both are correct and that is scary.

I am an avid scrabble player and in this arena, we talk about a finite list of acceptable words. The word list is updated every year to take in new words. There was a little lag for words like 'internet', 'blog' and 'spam' to be added in. I believe whoever is maintaining the list is having a hard time keeping up with new tech terms. I have yet to check if words such as 'phish' and 'noob' are now acceptable.

We use words to communicate and when day-to-day words are outside our vacab list, we get shut off from the world we used to know or ought to know. Is this happening to some of us as we no longer understand fully some of the things that are being talked about?

I am not sure about you but it is happening to me. It is time for me to pick up the dictionary of the 21st Century to update my already outdated vocabulary list.


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