The English language is a dynamic one with new words and phrases added to our lexicon every day. That makes it a useful language, but it also makes it a vexing one for those of us who are still trying to get comfortable with yesterday’s English.
I’m still trying to warm up to the tendency to take nouns and turn them into verbs, as in “I’m tasking him to do this,” or “I’m purposing to do that.” But what a lot of us are having trouble with — and I suspect it’s especially the over-40 crowd — is the entirely new dictionary of terms that has mushroomed around the Web 2.0 media.
Recycling some, inventing others
Some words have been “repurposed” (I’m catching on), while some have been created from the ground up. An example of the former would be “asset,” which used to be something accountants or CIA types worried about, while an example of the latter would be “vlog.”
You might want to see how many of the following dozen terms you know, and grade yourself accordingly. Following the list, you’ll find the definitions. Here we go:
OK, let’s see how you did, starting with one of the easiest terms and moving on to ones that we sometimes bluff others into thinking we understand.
Web 2.0 Media. No exact, uniform definition but this refers to the interactive use of the Web — generally called the social use — wherein users post their own original content alongside the content of organized information providers. In a larger sense, it refers to any new Web applications, ie. anything that wasn’t there last month.
Aggregation. This refers to the gathering and remixing of information from a multitude of sources on the Web, usually via RSS (see later listing) related to the topic at hand and gathered via keywords.
Blogroll. Not a distant cousin to a bedroll, this is a list of blogger-recommended, topic-related sites that appear in the sidebar of a blog.
Vlog. A video blog as opposed to a written one.
Mashup. What your wife does to potatoes. Oh yes, and a web service or software tool used to combine two or more tools to create a whole new service. A leading example is ChicagoCrime, which merges Google Maps with the Chicago Police Department’s crim- tracking web site to offer a map of crime in different parts of Chicago.
Moblogging. We’re talking mobile blogging here, which refers to users who post updates of their blogs from a mobile device such as a cell phone. It’s blogging on the fly.
Newsreader. This is what TV news anchors are often called in Europe, but that’s another story. In Webspeak, a newsreater collects the news from several blogs or news sites via RSS, providing readers access news from a single web site. A couple wellknown online newsreaders are Pluck and Bloglines.
RSS. You may have seen these initials on your e-mail site. They denote a format for users to store online data in way that makes it readable by a large variety of software. Many blogs and web sites feature RSS feeds, which are constantly updated to keep the site’s content fresh. These feeds are provided in a form that can be read by an aggregator or newsreader.
Podcast. Either broadcasting the news from the inside of a vegetable or, more likely, the distribution of multimedia files over the Internet for playback on a mobile device or a personal computer like an iPod.
Captcha. Seems like a cousin to Gotcha, but this refers to those crazy letters and numbers you have to decipher and type in when filling out a form on the web. It is a mechanism used to check whether or not you are human (really) and is used to prevent spam.
Cloud Computing. Sounds like this refers to surfing while flying the friendly skies, but things aren’t always as they seem. Cloud Computing brings up the recent trend of using the Internet as an applicaiton platform (or cloud) like utilzing an online version of a word processor rather than using a word processor on your computer’s hard drive. Cloud Computing also refers to the use of the Web as a service, such as storing your pictures online at Flickr as opposed to storing them on your hard drive.
Social Bookmarking. No need for a social secretary here, but this term refers to storing individual pages online, allowing you to “tag” them. For users who frequently bookmark web pages, social bookmarking can provide an easier way to organize the bookmarks.
And as for that asset listed earlier, it’s been rolled into a larger term called “asset management system.” Writer A.J. van Kiekerk calls that a computer hardware system that aids in the “ingestion, annotation, cataloguing, storage, retrieval and distribution of digital assets.”