The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on September 22, 2002 · Page 48
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 48

Hays, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 22, 2002
Page 48
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BY JIM LOUDERBACK what? Today's geeklest terminology is tomorrow's coolest slang. Read up, you mouse potato! R UNNING ON EMPTY? Putting your Life on hold? Need to step on it or try to get cranked up for something (think: cleaning out the garage)? Never been inspired by a real stemwinder of a speech? (That explains why you're probably not sure what "stemwinder" means.) For those of us who have, we can thank the car, the phone and the watch. Each of these inventions is the source of expressions that have become part of our language. Gadgets may come and go, improve or become obsolete (only antique watches are still wound by hand with the stemwinder). But the usages they spawn can last forever. Today's newest technology is creating its own quirky colloquialisms. Words only a geek could love are moving into the mainstream — finding a place at the kitchen table and in our e-mail chatter. Here's a list of my favorites and the definitions I'm betting they'll adopt down the road. TiVo. In real life: the brand name for the most popular personal video recorder that allows you to tape TV shows while skipping the commercials. Similar to how "Xerox" became synonymous with copying and "Kleenex" with tissues, TiVo has become the generic term for such all such gadgets. I predict TiVo soon will supplant "cliff notes" (origin: Cliffs Notes) for getting the abbreviated-after-the-fact version of something you missed, as in "Can you TiVo Dad's birthday party and fill me in?" or "Just TiVo the meeting for me; 111 be getting my nails done." IM (pronounced EYE-EM). Real meaning: short for "Instant Message," the text messages exchanged by AOL users; used as a verb, as in "Not now, Mom, I'm IM'ing!" New meaning: any short message typed out and electronically sent to someone else, often via cell- phone. In today's IM shorthand, "I love you" becomes "I LUV U," and "see you later" becomes "C U L8R." I'm convinced one day IM will morph into a generic term for all sorts of brief phrases with some letters removed, including wacky license plates, words like "thruway" and any conversation with a teen, as in "I've been IM'ing you all day, and I'm not going to repeat myself again. Cln yr ITU!" Blogs, or Web logs. Personal diaries used to be furtively scribbled down and then secured under lock and key. Now they're mostly self-indulgent ramblings for all to see on the Web. Soon "blog" will replace "bloviate" in describing windbags and blowhards. "Turn the TV off, Marge; we expected a stem- winder, but Bush is just blogging." Slashdot. The Internet version of what happens in the restaurant world when a glut of customers, generated by a sparkling review, descends on and ultimately ruins the place. "We were slashdotted" is a common complaint when unexpected popularity causes an ill-equipped site to crash. Derivation:, one of the Web's most popular blogs, provides geeks with Web links to wacky and topical technology stories. In the future, slashdot will describe what happens when enlightened crowds ruin really cool things, such as Nantucket, the Dave Matthews Band and the BMW Mini Cooper. Smart mob. This is what enlightened, IM- enabled masses are called when they converge on, and thus ruin, cool but little-known Web sites. Eventually, "smart mob" will replace "crew" in hip-hop vernacular, as in "Yo, homey, don't you be dissing me and my smart mob!" Mouse potato. Meaning: a not particularly enlightened individual who sits dronelike at his or her computer accomplishing absolutely nothing. Television gave us the couch potato, which now describes any zombie-like behavior involving comfy furniture. This phrase, however, is the computer variant, as in "Junior is such a mouse potato; he just sits at the screen all day, IM'ing his Mends." I expect we'll drop both "mouse" and "couch," and soon anyone sitting down for more than a few minutes will simply be a "potato." Sour cream sales will skyrocket. Ping. Originally applied to submarine sonar, which sends sonic pings into the ocean to detect enemy craft; now computer users ping each other to ensure they can IM or exchange Britney Spears tunes. Outside of golf circles, "ping" has started to substitute for "give me a shout," particularly after an event. Your boss might say "Ping me when you land at JFK" so he can dump a new load of work on you. Well, I have to go now. I just got an IM from my mouse-potato wife saying I got slashdotted by a smart mob, and she can't ping my blog. ca Contributing Editor JIM LOUDERBACK is editor in chief for Internet at Ziff Davis Media, -which publishes PC Magazine, EWeek and ExtremeTech. com. WEEKEND THE MAGAZINE THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE Presldent/CEO/Edltor • MARCIA L. BUUARD Publisher • CHARLES GABRIELSON Executive Editor • JACK CURRY VP/Newspaper Relations • DAVE BARBER VP/Operatlons • WILLIAM COAKLEY Directors Human Resources, GRETCHEN CIOFFI Marketing, SONIA DAVID Operations, LAURIE LAMON Research, FRANK DOLCIMASCOLO Creative Manager: Casey Shaw Assistant Managing Editor: Brenda Turner Senior Editors: Kathy Balog, Cralgh Barboza, Gayle Jo Carter, Carol Clurman, Constance Kurz, Lorrle Lynch, Prlscllla Totten Copy Chief: Tom Lent Copy Editor: Jill Golden Make A Difference Day Editor: Pamela Brown Senior Writer: Dennis McCafferty Reporter/Researchers: Mlchele Hatty, Frappa Stout Editorial Assistant: Tameka L. Hicks Publicist: NIcholeTillman Art Director: Pamela Smith Design Director: Leon Lawrence III Assistant Art Director: Dian Holton Photo Editor: David Baratz Deputy Photo Editor: David Hicks Online: Amelia Stephenson o Copyright 2002 USA WEEKEND, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. Printed In the USA Since 1953, your Family Weekly Contributing Editors: Pam Anderson, Ken Burns, Jean Carper, Jean Sherman Chatzky, Stephen Covey, Kenneth C. Davis, Dennie Hughes, Wally Lamb, Lisa Ling, Jim Louderback,Lou Manfredlnl, Stephanie Mansfield, Dr.Tedd Mitchell, Stephanie Oakes.Drew Plnsky, Cokie Roberts, Steve Roberts, Tavls Smiley,Terry Stlckels USA WEEKEND 7950 Jones Branch Dr. McLean Va. 22107 Telephone: 1-800-487-2956 E-mail: For permission to reprint an article, calll-800-487-2956. Advertising Office: 535 Madison Ave. New York, N.Y. 10022 4 USA WEEKEND-Sept. 20-22,2002

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