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Geek-Speak or Elitism?

I read an interesting post on the Scobelizer today, regarding Microsoft’s Jon Udell’s attempt to show MS users how they can blog straight from Word 2007 

The gist was that Udell was supposedly talking to folks with a minimal amount of tech savvy, but still using the “geek-speak” of a seasoned pro. 

My reply (#10), though slightly off topic, addressed this, and I’m curious as to your thoughts?  I’ve posted my reply below, as well.  

Do “geeks” use a specialized lingo out of convenience, or arrogance? 

Let me know what you think… 

-Perk

Here were my thoughts:

 I agree.

The heart may be in the right place, but the mouth is way off.

The tech-savvy (geeks if you like) are either already blogging, or will do an on-line search for a “how-to” because…well, that’s what we do.

However, if my mother-in-law wants to start a blog, and reads a line like:

“But none of this is apparent to most people and, if it requires them to write semantic CSS tags in XHTML using emacs, it never will become apparent.”

…she’s going straight back to Free Cell.If the idea is to broaden the horizons and widen the gate on technologies like blogging, then it’s time to stop preaching to the choir, and use some simple, straightforward language.But, if we do this…if we stop using the latest inside jargon and acronyms, wither goes our sense of technological elitism?

What keeps the geeks “cool” if anyone can understand us?

-Perry

  

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7 thoughts on “Geek-Speak or Elitism?

  1. “If the idea is to broaden the horizons and widen the gate on technologies like blogging, then it’s time to stop preaching to the choir, and use some simple, straightforward language.”

    I violently agree. See my comment on Robert’s item for my thoughts on developing separate channels for separate audiences.

    “But, if we do this…if we stop using the latest inside jargon and acronyms, wither goes our sense of technological elitism? What keeps the geeks “cool” if anyone can understand us?”

    How about making the technology actually deliver on its promises? For most people, in most ways, it hasn’t.

  2. iwork4xerox on said:

    Jon,

    Hey, thanks for the reply. I totally agree! I think “separate channels for separate audiences” is a great idea.

    I’d love to spend more time helping folks help themselves, less time deciphering lingo, and have resources that I could point them to for simple instructions in plain language.

    My concern (and this was kinda the point of my post) is the backlash you may recieve for inviting the technological “have-nots” to the party. I deal with a lot of the “geek” crowd, and see more and more elitism. Hopefully, evening the playing field a little will dilute this a bit.

    I think you’re on the right track here. I’ll keep an eye on your blog for more info on this.

    Thanks again,

    -Perry

  3. Do we have to have separate channels? Is it possible to explain something in such a way so that all can understand, learn, grow? I think a lot of times we use “slang” because its easy and we’re lazy.

  4. Perry, you asked (over at Scoble’s place):

    “I admit I got a little off-topic with the “elitism” rabbit-trail, but can you clarify how your response related to my statement? (Not being sarcastic, I seriously want to know.)”

    My response to you (also there but reproduced here at your request):

    “How about making the technology actually deliver on its promises? For most people, in most ways, it hasn’t.”

    My thesis is as follows. People who are old enough to have seen PCs and the Internet evolve brought a set of expectations about what that stuff would be, and would do for them. Those expectations came from science fiction, which told us that computers and networks and software would add up to the kind of intelligent assistance that was beautifully captured in Apple’s Knowledge Navigator concept video (http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2003/10/23.html).

    Then they actually got their hands on the technology and, as exciting as it was, it was also in many ways a crushing disappointment. Things mostly did not Just Work. When they did, you had to struggle to get them to work. You had to learn about all kinds of crap you never wanted to learn. And the benefits, while very real — especially now in the Internet era — still fell far short of the hype.

    This would be an interesting experiment: Find a civilian (non-geek) friend, and watch the Knowledge Navigator video with that person. How does he or she react? Hopeful and inspired? Or jaded and cynical? I fear the latter but I’d like to be proven wrong.

  5. iwork4xerox on said:

    Jon,

    Thank you so much for re-posting this here, I really appreciate it.

    I think you raise a valid question.

    Keep an eye on this thread folks, I’m going to contact some “Civilian” friends and see if they are willing to engage in this experiment.

    I think Jon deserves a nod here as well, lots of folks are willing to post criticisms, without coming up with a means to validate their opinion.

    I’ll re-post as the responses come in.

    Thanks again,

    -Perry

  6. iwork4xerox on said:

    Fyi..here’s the link to the follow up post.

    Thanks,

    -Perry

  7. Dane Shores on said:

    So I watched the video as Perry requested. I just don’t beleive it. We’ll see flying cars or cheap fusion energy before we see AI integrated into personal technology at this level. Part of the hurdle will be our own doing. People aren’t willing to accept adaptive, intuitive machines (think Terminator). That will slow the growth and progress of technology.

    I think something like this is 50 years away. Mark me a cynic.

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