Hi, everyone! I’m Leo Notenboom for askleo.com.
One of the most frustrating aspects that I hear from people all the time about technology in general is that it sometimes seems like you need to learn a whole other language just to be able to communicate about what it is you are using.
Now, in reality, of course, that’s not technically true. There are a few words that you may or may not need to know, but if you’re just using technology, it actually doesn’t really matter what you call things. The problem comes when you’re trying to communicate with others, especially technical professionals such as myself.
The issue is that words matter.
It’s funny; there was an advertisement for some kind of vocabulary program many years ago, and the catchphrase that they used was this: “People judge you by the words you use.” Now, it’s not fair; I’m not even going to claim that it’s fair or that it needs to be this way, but it is in reality very, very true.
People judge you by the words you use, and when you use the wrong words, not only is there a very high possibility of miscommunication, but there’s also this back-story of judging you and perhaps coming across not quite as knowledgeable as you really, in fact, are.
Just because you might use the wrong word for something doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re talking about. You probably do. To you, it’s very clear exactly what it is you mean and what it is you’re trying to communicate. The problem, of course, is that the person that you’re talking to may have a different vocabulary for these things, a different way of saying things and different nomenclatures for things that are very important.
Now when it comes to technology, like I said, it ends up being really important to communicate clearly. Especially when you’re asking questions or seeking help. That’s why I want to talk about this a little bit today and kind of encourage you to spend a little bit of time on your technology vocabulary.
I want to show a couple of really, I’ll call them “extreme” examples but they’re not necessarily obvious to the people that actually use them.
One example: There’s no such thing as a labtop; l-a-b-t-o-p. What it is is a laptop; l-a-p-t-o-p. The intention of course is that the computer, a laptop, was originally thought of as something you would use on your lap while you’re sitting down. Whether or not that’s true, or actually true in practice is immaterial. That’s what the word is – a laptop. Now I also understand that there are many ways that people can come to the wrong conclusion about what that word means or what that word is.
If they only hear it, it’s very easy to hear “labtop” and then it’s also very easy to infer that the word derives from being used in the laboratory. It’s a “labtop” but that’s not at all the case. Laptop is the word; laptop is what you should be using when you’re talking about that particular type of technology.
Another example that actually I see way more frequently than “labtop” is “CPU”. This box is not a CPU. This box is a computer. It contains a CPU; a CPU or Central Processing Unit is a specific chip inside of that box that is the brains, as you will, of a computer. That’s a very, very common, erroneous usage of terms. Now, again, does it matter? Well, yes and no. On one hand, when people are asking me questions and they talk about their CPU, I kinda know what they are talking about. The problem is that many technical professionals, unfortunately, and to our shame, to be honest, aren’t as forgiving.
They actually do judge you by the words you use. They may very well not be as forthcoming or as helpful if from their perspective, you don’t even understand the right words. It shouldn’t be that way, but I’m here to tell you that it is that way.
Like I said, I’ve done a lot over the past thirteen years, I’ve learned a lot about the terms that people tend to use and the terms that people misuse, so I’m actually able to interpret a lot of questions correctly – to actually understand what is meant, but that’s an intentional piece of work that I do; that’s something that I have to focus on, something I have to keep in mind as I’m reading the questions that people submit.
Again, I hate to say it, but not everyone’s like that, and of course I’m not the only person that you’re ever going to ask for help, so my takeaway from this, my request for you for this is simply two things: One, I would strongly encourage you to invest a little bit of time in vocabulary, specifically when it comes to computers and technology, learn the correct terms. Try and understand exactly what it is those terms mean and try at least to use them properly.
Now, I also get that it’s not always obvious that you’re using a term wrong. For example, the people that are using the “labtop”, well, they don’t know it’s wrong. It’s what they hear; it’s what they assume. I get that, but be prepared for some, hopefully, gentle corrections. Accept those, in good faith, that people are attempting to accept or correct your use of terminology so that you’ll have a better experience with other technical professionals moving forward.
The second thing that I’d like you to do, and this comes back to Ask Leo!, leave a comment down below. If there are specific terms that confuse you or that you don’t understand, I’d love you to hear what they are. I’m not sure you are aware, but I actually have an online glossary. Glossary.askleo.com is, in fact, an online glossary that tries to, as I say, define confusing technology terms in plain English.
It’s usually possible. It takes a little bit of work but it actually can help you understand exactly what those words often mean. So I’m going to ask you, again, if you have some thoughts, leave them down below in comments.
As always, if you’re watching this anywhere but on askleo.com, those comments are at this URL. Go here and you’ll scroll down and you’ll see moderated comments for this video. I’d love to hear what you think. As always, I’m Leo Notenboom for askleo.com. Have fun; be safe; don’t forget to back up. Take care, everyone.