If you're a geek (like me) you probably spend a lot of time talking about geeky things. You probably have a lot of friends who are geeks. You probably do some geeky job, where lots of your workmates are geeks. Lost in this sea of geekdom, it’s tempting sometimes to forget that there are a lot of people out there who just don't understand any of this geeky stuff one little bit.
Yes indeed, dear readers, there are plenty of people out there who don't have a bloody clue what a Serial ATA controller is. Or what's the difference between RAID 0+1 and RAID 1+0. Or what's so special about a pixel shader, or what is just so great about a 7,200 rpm hard drive. They do, however, know that they want such technology. They know it can be useful, they know it can be fun – they just have no idea what it really all means.
New research by Nielsen/NetRatings has found that even although people are buying and using cutting-edge technology all the time, they often don't understand the terms that describe what their device or technology actually does. They just know its good without actually understanding what it is.
For example, 40% of online Britons receive news feeds, but 67% did not know that the official term for this service was Really Simple Syndication. Millions of people use instant messaging to keep in touch, but 57% of online Brits said they did not know that the acronym for it was IM.
Indeed, some terms such as blogging and podcasting have now reached such high levels of popularity that they have found their way into dictionaries - and yet there are still plenty of people who don't know what these things mean. The language of the geek is still a difficult one to understand, no matter how greatly computers have integrated themselves into the lives of the non-geeks.
"There is a certain level of knowledge snobbery in so far as if you talk in acronyms you sound like you really know what you’re talking about, and if others don’t understand then they are seen in some way as inferior", said Alex Burmaster, analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings.