One of the greatest challenges I face on a daily basis is that of overcoming jargon—of understanding industry- and topic-specific language that is common parlance within a community but akin to a foreign language without. For example, some of the jargon words that I have had to embrace as a researcher include 'ontology', 'epistemology' and 'dialectic'.
A recent survey, which asked 2392 people about information technology jargon, illustrates the point well. You may laugh at some of the responses in the report, wondering how people could be so naive, or you may smile, because you are can relate to some of them. Either way, the point remains: that jargon expedites effective communication within a community, but it is a barrier to effective communication beyond.
However, the language used in this article exposes a disturbing undercurrent: that members of the IT community seem to expect that everyone else knows and embraces their jargon. Perhaps it is the pervasiveness of computers and technology in our lives. Perhaps it is hubris. Perhaps it is something else, or a combination of things. Whatever it is, I challenge it. If one is not a member of a community to which the jargon pertains, why is knowledge of such jargon necessary? My wife does not expect her patients to understand the jargon she uses with her medical colleagues, so she avoids certain words or provides an explanation during consultations. Equally, she does not expect to know about HTML or ABS. She simply wants to use the computer and to drive the car. It is a matter of professional ethic to remove or explain jargon, for the sake of effective communication between consenting adults. I look forward to the day that the technology sector grows up.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.