73 Bits of Cyber Jargon
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 96 14:11:08 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: 73 Bits of Cyber Jargon
[Jargon from many disciplines and specialties as it leaks into cyberspeak,
interpreted by Wired Magazine (mostly). Although this has been hacked a bit
along the way, there's still a weird Wired accent to it all... -psl]
Forwarded-by: "Jack D. Doyle" <doylej@PEAK.ORG>
Excerpted-from: Wired Magazine
<> Astroturf Campaign
A fake grass-roots political campaign. Posited in RISKS Digest as a
potential future problem in net-based "issue" campaigning, in which massive
phony mailings are easier than ever.
<> BLOB (Binary Large OBject)
Used to describe very large binary files. "The speed of your server is a
function of the size and number of BLOBs you'll be moving through the
<> Bit flip
A 180-degree personality change. "Jim did a major bit flip and became a
Any form of digital correspondence (text, bit-mapped images, fax
transmissions) or the act of sending same. "Did you bit-spit that file to
<> Bitraking (alternative to muckraking)
A new form of Net-based investigative journalism. Becoming very popular as
journalists from major magazines and dailies troll the Net fishing for
The combining of different media from a variety of sources (type, computer
graphics, scanned images, animation, video). Similar to multimedia, but more
often used to describe a collage/ kitchen-sink approach. Can also refer to
static images that have these combined elements. Also: meltomedia.
<> Chamber Art
Term coined by electronic music composer Morton Subotnick (creator of the
CD-ROM art piece All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis) to refer to the intimate,
one-on-one relationship that an artist can have with a viewer/ listener
through computer-based art.
Impressive musical technique. Originally referred to skill on instruments
played by mouth, now used to describe virtuosity on any instrument, or
technical skill in any art form: "The Dizz had monster chops," or "Dig his
A section of computer code that is forever being rewritten or changed. Also
can describe text documents. Writings produced by committee are rife with
<> Cut Steel
To build a mold for a cast product. "The widget design was okayed. Let's cut
Government money that flows to well-connected information superhighway
<> Dark Fiber
When a company lays high-bandwidth fiber-optic cable containing much more
potential that can be currently used, the wire is said to be dark. Not only
are the telecos laying dark fiber, but so are oil and gas utilities
companies, since they own long-distance stretches of hollow pipe.
<> Dawn Patrol
Programmers who are still at their terminals when you return to work the
<> Dead End Users (DEUs)
A derogatory play on "end users." Used by some technical support people to
refer to the clueless masses who call with painfully obvious tech questions.
[BOFH, where are you? -psl]
<> Death Star Villages
Suburbs around New Jersey where many AT&T workers' families live. Makes
reference to the AT&T logo, which employees have dubbed "The Death Star"
(from the Star Wars films).
A corporate euphemism for laying off workers.
<> Dial Group
People are gathered into a focus group and given an electronic dial. As the
group watches a speech or commercial, each person adjusts the dial in a "feel
negative about" or "feel positive about" direction. The group average is
charted into a rising and falling line that records a collective
second-by-second judgement on the presentation.
People who are in perfect alignment on an issue, an idea, or a belief
system. Allegedly coined by Rush Limbaugh to refer to his legion of faithful
<> Dog bones
The bone-shaped holographic stickers that are used to seal new CD boxes.
Supposedly "for your protection" to guard against repackaged used discs.
<> Drop Paper
A firm purchasing agreement. "We're not ready to drop paper on it yet, but
we have several likely prospects."
<> Ear Candy
Sickly sweet strings or other musical "additives," lacking substance, meant
to make a piece of music more palatable. "This piece is a little heavy on the
ear candy." In visual art: eye candy.
<> Feeb (from feeble)
An incompetent. "I'm a total feeb when it comes to public speaking!"
Net users who try to put out "flame wars" early in their gestation.
<> Fix It In Post
Used in video production to mean: "We (or somebody else) will deal with this
in post-production." Used as an excuse to ignore a sticky situation,
postponing the agony of confronting a serious problem.
<> Fix It In The Mix
From sound recording. See Fix It In Post.
<> Friday Night Pizza Maker (from Japan)
A drunken salaryman who leaves a puddle of vomit on the subway platform.
<> Full-on Honkey Handshake
Used to describe a standard handshake protocol that allows peripherals to
connect "without a lot of street jive" (no complicated configuring).
Describes a piece of tech that supposedly won't become outdated (anytime
<> Going Postal
Euphemism for being totally stressed out; losing it. Makes reference to the
unfortunate number of postal employees who have snapped and gone on mass
<> Holy Wars
Perpetual BBS discussions that never die, the arguments never change, and no
one's opinions ever budge one iota. Holy wars are fought over abortion, gun
control, Mac versus IBM, Windows versus DOS, and how much nudity to allow in
the image areas of online services.
<> Identity Hacking
Posting anonymously, pseudonymously, or by giving a completely false
name/address/phone with the intent to deceive.
Term being bandied about Capitol Hill as a faster and more global-sounding
replacement for the cumbersome "information superhighway."
<> Intel (from the novel _Snow Crash_)
Describes any useful information found in cyberspace. "Just got some cool
intel on Unix shortcuts from FringeWare."
Used to describe someone who moves through a workday responding to a series
of interruptions rather than the work goals originally set.
<> Kevorking (after Dr. Jack Kevorkian)
To kill something. "Look, kevork that project and let's go out for a
burger." Or "I read half the article, got bored, and kevorked it."
<> Kill Your Babies
Used in any production situation in which your favorite pieces of work have
to be removed. "You've run out of disk space for this presentation. Time to
kill some of your babies in the sound files."
Reference librarians of the future; software agents that can worm their way
through networks looking for requested info. "Full-feature knowbots are still
on the drawing board, while some preliminary systems are currently in use."
<> Lick Your Lips
In television and advertising, phrase for "Okay, here we go, performance
level everybody." Typically said immediately before the camera rolls.
<> Life Support
To describe the condition of a business or product fighting for its life in
the marketplace. "No, they're still in business, but definitely on full life
A mail-order catalog disguised as a magazine in the hope of sucking in its
recipients. "Hey wait...this International Male magazine is one of those
Replacing Marxist-Leninism as the new governing style of China. Combines the
iron fist political rule of Leninism with the wide-open economic
permissiveness of free-market capitalism. Think Singapore.
<> Martian Packet
Term for strange fragments (data packets) of electronic mail that turn up
unexpectedly on the wrong computer network because of bogus routing. Also
used as a name for a fragment that has an altogether non-registered or
ill-formed Internet address.
<> Meet Ed (vi)
Hip-hop slang for getting fuckED over, dissED, screwED, or rippED off.
An acronym for "Male or Female?" Posed as a question in the People
Connection "rooms" of America Online as conversants try to determine the sex
of other occupants. "Sandy - MorF?" Replies often include age and
geographical location: "F/24/Cleveland."
<> Mouse Potato
The online and interactive-TV generation's answer to the couch potato.
Variation on multimedia.
<> Net Spider
Someone who spends a lot of time scrambling from one computer net to
another. A ubiquitous Net personality.
<> Non-Linear Behavior or NLB (from Chaos Theory)
Used to describe emotional or irrational flaming on the Net. "That
gun-control topic is overwhelmed by NLB."
An individual (or subculture) that insists on turning every multiword term
into an acroNYM (ATM, SMTP, 3D0, NII, T2, ADSL...).
[Er, none of those are really acronyms... oh well. -psl]
<> Paste Bomb
A random or nonsequiturial piece of data that is cut from one's hard drive
and pasted into an online conversation. Meant to entertain, infuriate, and
befuddle online conversants. Sci-fi author and Net spider Bruce Sterling is a
notorious paste bomber.
<> Perot (vi)
To quit unexpectedly, as in "My cellular phone just perot'd."
Archiving a working model of a computer to read data stored in that
computer's format. Apple Computer has pickled a shrink-wrapped Apple II in a
vault so that it can read Apple II software, perhaps in the not-too-distant
A compulsive digital manipulator. A Photoshop abuser.
A CD-ROM title that contains mostly pre-existing material shoveled in to
fill the 600 Mbytes of disk space. "Kitchen-sink title," has a similar,
although somewhat less derogatory, meaning.
Used to describe people who use only one computer system, refusing to learn
or even acknowledge the worth of any others.
To bring a network, especially a LAN, to its knees by overloading it with
data traffic. "We slagged the net last night by playing Spectre while the MIS
department was trying to reindex the accounting file."
Acronym for Small Office, Home Office. Ziff-Davis recently started inserting
a PC supplement into Sunday newspapers targeting the SoHo market.
Computer media used for social purposes, as a means of exchange,
collaboration, and the social construction of knowledge. Computer
conferencing would be a perfect example of sociomedia. Suggested by
hypermedia theorist Edward Barrett in his book of the same name.
To speak aimlessly on a mishmash of topics. To stuff someone's brain with
information of questionable content. "This guy on AOL started spammin' me
about Rush Limbaugh's superior intellect."
<> Strangelove Ocean
Ecology slang for an ocean where pollution has killed all the life forms
near the water's surface, making it look like a nuked wasteland.
Synthetic actor. Used in 3-D computer animation to describe sophisticated
human forms that can be imported into a virtual world. Also "electronic
puppets," "dolls," or "vactors." [Don't forget "ractors." -psl]
<> TOSsed Out
Ejected from the chat rooms on America Online for violating its Terms of
Service (TOS) agreement. The ejection-happy arbiters of taste who do the
TOSsing are sometimes referred to as cybercops.
Term of derision often used by young hackers who fancy themselves the
legitimate residents of cyberspace and see the older generation of hackers
and personal computer developers as parental party crashers. Also:
techno-wimps and cyber-yuppies.
The sum total of the technological infrastructure of a society.
<> Telephone Number Salary
A seven-digit salary (or project budget).
<> The Beast
Hip-hop slang for something that's out-of-control cool. "The new Cypress
Hill record is The Beast, man!"
Cheap Internet routers made with old PCs. May have been inspired by the
Video Toaster desktop editing device for the Amiga, or by that ubiquitous
home appliance. "Grunge Computing" has been proposed as a general term for
the re-purposing of old PCs and other trashed digital technology.
<> Train Wreck
A mistake among a group of musicians when two or more people play
conflicting parts at the same time, resulting in a few seconds of musical
chaos. Making its way into the general vernacular as an expression for any
<> Trog Mode
A round-the-clock hacking session in which your eyes get so tired you have
to turn off the lights and toggle the monitor into reverse - white letters on
a black screen. Programmers in Troglodyte mode often prop themselves up with
stimulants, loud music, and outbursts of colorful language.
<> User Eye-D
A face-to-face (FTF) meeting with someone you've gotten to know only over
the Net. "My User Eye-D with Robin was not what I expected. Robin's a guy!"
<> Vulcan Nerve Pinch
Keyboard commands that tax the hand's ability to reach all the appropriate
keys. For instance, the warm boot for a Mac II involves simultaneously
pressing both Control keys, the Command key, and the Power On key.
<> Web Jam
A multitasking rave or tribal gathering where self-selected performance
artists, musicians, and dancers perform simultaneously.
A new trend among neural-implant hobbyists. You hook electrodes to your
temples and give yourself small controlled doses of electro-shock therapy.
Don't try this at home, kids!
© 1996 Peter Langston