Friday, October 13, 2000

File Not Found: Cyberbabble Explained

by Douglas McDaniel

Do you speak Geek? Feel a tinge of dread at the sight of an encrypted acronym? Don't worry, your anxiety is pretty typical. You can prove yourself worthy of any venture capital that's left, though, if you learn to use the cyberbabble out there.

Technobabble is a virus on the Web, and it's mutating. Neologisms are forming so fast in the digital petri dish it's impossible to keep up. Such e-relevant terminology can be found at such sites as Netlingo, Whatis and PCWebopaedia. The gods of new media are constantly re-inventing versions of cyber-this, I-that, e-ad infinitum. But, dot-commit, even they fall behind. Fortunately, you can make up your own terms with the Web Economy Bullshit Generator .

If you feel shunned wherever Geek is spoken, that's exactly the point. Geek speak is the Freemason handshake for our day. Code words are a kind of technology, after all. That makes them even more powerful than the sword.

Even worse are those words that appropriate the familiar, turning trusty morsels into cyborgs. The word "cookie" will never be the same, nor will "chat," and "spam" is even less appetizing now.

New meanings turn our worldviews upside down. For example, while it's good that once-laughable "geeks" are cool, I'm unsure where to go with "hacktavist." Sure, that anonymous, hit-and-run raid at my favorite Web site made a good point about online security. But the activist hybrid betrays the very icons of civil disobedience. Until "hacktavists" come out of the closet, who's going to recognize them as such heroic folk as Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr.?

Yep, the power of neologimania needs to be wrested from these technical wizards, if for no other reason than to keep us from getting hoodwinked. We need to popularize new words right now, run them right up the public flagpole. Then we can all wink at each other in chat rooms, newsgroups and so on, and nobody will feel left out. Here are just a few that I've come up with so far:

Betababy----Any Net-savvy child born after Vice President Al Gore invented the Internet, thus becoming a highly distracted lab rat in this mad, mad experiment in social engineering. We have no idea how it will turn out (See year 2020).

C"No Evil"EO----Head honcho of an over-invested

CEO-U-LATER----Head honcho of an over-invested who dumps his company stock while the going is still good.

Dot-commie----Anyone who believes the Web should be free of all advertising.

E-mu----A strange bird that tastes a lot like chicken, actually.

E-nnoyer----Journalist or ad copywriter who can't stop coming up with new ways to shorten phrases to give them a tragically hip e-relevance, i.e., "So much confusion, can't get no e-lief."

Hacktavista----A "South-of-the-Border" hacker.

Human Search Engine----A Web user who can locate online information instinctively, in most cases faster than a hot bot (a really, really good search engine).

Webcaste----The class of marginal celebrities who we can already see on TV, so why do we need to see them at an online Webcast?

Webgeist----Adapted from zeitgeist, which is German shrink-speak (see B.F. Skinner) for "time ghost." As in: the ghost in the machine.

Please use these terms in your e-mail, and certainly, speak them out loud, especially in the presence of teens (always a great way to spread lingo). If you send me e-mail using them, or even have new neologisms, maybe I'll make up a word for you. The letter "X," for example, is a real good area to break into right now.

DOUGLAS McDANIEL is senior editor at Access Internet Magazine. He can be e-mailed at, but has no idea where to get those hole punchers.

Thursday, October 12, 2000

Wednesday, October 11, 2000