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I love disruptive computer jargon. It's so very William Burroughs

Let's all affirmerate our modes of acceptancy

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Would you mind leveraging a time unit while I ideate my ecosystem?

Sorry, I meant to say “Give me a minute while I sort my things out” but I’ve been writing a lot about disruptive technology this week. I must have zoned while dogfooding my hume-code for bugs… er, I mean “got carried away while proofreading my articles for typos”.

I appreciate that I might be using some of these IT development expressions incorrectly, and some probably didn’t exist at all until I made them up just now, but heck, can I help it if I’m disruptive?

Being able to make up new jargon whenever you like is one of the finest unique features of the English language. That is, I assume it’s unique to English. If it wasn’t, tech-savvy people around the world would be free to invent home-grown buzz terms in their own native languages rather than being forced to stoop so low as to sprinkle their poetic ancient vocabularies with every tagnut of technobollox that English farts out.

Of course, these examples of jargon might not be English but American.

In that case, good for you, Americans! I raise my glass in your honour! I love Americans and the way they mangle English as if they spontaneously decided to pull the Babelfish from their ears and chew them like gum instead.

For Americans reading this, don’t be offended. Please understand that to my feeble British ears, all Americans sound like Woody from Toy Story.

This would be OK on its own but what really impresses me is the way American IT documentation authors write like William Burroughs. I don’t know what you think you’re writing is supposed to mean, but it wins a 10 out of 10 from me for sheer fucking insanity.

Just like the way you know that the well-groomed baddie in a Hollywood action movie will have a generic Brit accent (if he’s badly groomed, he’ll be very specifically Cockney), I can spot American writing 1.6km away. It’s hard to describe but I know it when I see it. Instead of something British and bland such as “Repeat the previous three steps and click OK”, it’ll say something like “The user will be behooved to reitify the aforementioned functionation in advance of affirmerating the mode of acceptancy”.

Fantastic stuff, really it is. We’re talking Naked Lunch 2.

The only bit I get stuck with is how to pronounce some of the acronyms. I never imagined there could be any problem here until the fateful moment many years ago when someone at Compuserve took me quietly to one side and explained that it was pronounced “Jiff”.

I was mortified. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy mispronouncing jargon: it always provokes an entertaining response and never fails to lift my spirits.

In fact, since the day I learnt that PNG – clearly not a pronounceable acronym due to its frankly petulant lack of vowels – should be spoken out loud as the rather fabulous “Ping!” I often try to find ways of pronouncing abbreviations, contractions and initialisations in unlikely ways.

For example, I am not sure whether abbreviated references to Software-as-a-Service as SaaS should be pronounced “ess-ay-ay-ess” or “saaahss”. I happen to prefer “saaahss”. Better still, I’ll try to say “ssssaaaaaaaahhhssss”.

This sets things up nicely for reading more American-authored documentation as it all sounds jolly tuneful in my head. Instead of growing indignant to learn the reprehensible concept behind Paradise randomware being described Ransomware-as-a-Service, my brain is singing “rrraaahhsss” at every mention, like a randy dinosaur.

Anyway, I digress. My intention at the beginning of this week’s column was to announce that I have devised a new dangleberry of disruptive IT jargon.


The yew tree, as I’m sure you’re aware, was sacred to the ancient druids. It is renowned for its long life, surviving up to 600 years in some cases. Perhaps less impressively, if curiously significant in its own way, is that the yew tree also lends its name to vast numbers of cafes and identikit “traditional” pub restaurants found all over Britain.

Yes, OK, the yew tree has more sinister connotations, being the name given to the lengthy police investigation into historical tit-squeezing and kiddie-fiddling by the BBC’s inexplicably successful stars of 1970s shit entertainment. Let’s say it refers to the tenacity of plod, not to the hideous excesses of the late Jimmy Savile, famous for being the best friend of both the similarly late Margaret Thatcher and Ian Brady.

So my intention is that yewtreeing should mean ensuring your code is so well written that it will last a very long time while gaining the respect of the pagan programming community.

Proving its linguistic versatility, yewtreeing can also be used to refer to putting corny DJs in jail for playing Womble records, or serving up a decent Lancashire hot pot on Sundays strictly between the hours of 11am and 3pm.

Put this on Microsoft Azure, and it should be possible to run yewtreeing as a distributed cloud application on a blockchain platform I’m calling Urethreum, using copies of Mike Batt’s Wombling Merry Christmas on 7in vinyl as its token. For impact, I’ve worked a couple of additional bits of meaningless jargon in the public brand, now to be known as Mutual-Yewtreeing-as-a-Rockstar-Service.

I confidently expect it to generate a lot of interest across the Atlantic and look forward to Americans looking up MYaaRS in the near future.

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Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. He believes his Urethreum platform, built as an open source project using the new Urethra language, will truly disrupt the paradigm. He has plans to surprise the market with the things coming through his open urethra pipeline at a future TED talk entitled: “No one can touch MYaaRS”.

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