As a software developer, using acronyms is like breathing. You just do it. Eventually, you don’t even think about it. Sometimes the acronym assumes a life of its own. These special acronyms are elevated to the status of buzz words, even though they really aren’t words.
I’m working on my next article for Ars Technica, an XML primer. XML is one of those special acronyms, recognized by many but understood by few. As a buzz word, it is thrown around almost casually, as sort of a badge that says “See? I fit in, too”.
Hurling buzzwords is also geek meeting ritual, used to establish one’s position and rank. Entire conversations can be carried on without breaking a sweat.
Person 1: WTF?
Person 2: RTFM, n00b.
Person 1: STFU.
Of course, this is an extreme that usually only takes place in the ether of the Internet. Across IRC and IM (two more legendary acronyms), exchanges such as the above. This has also led to the phenomenon of this “Internet Speak” protruding beyond the digital divide.
XML, HTML, SQL, IRC, IIRC, WTF, AIM, IM, RPC, OOP, WTF, RTFM. The list is endless and evergrowing. We constantly change technology to improve our lives, but at the same time technology is changing us.