Remember the World Wide Web?

Does anything go out of style more quickly than the way we describe technology? Even oldsters like me know that “information superhighway,” “personal digital assistant” and “long-distance call” are old hat. But here are a few terms I didn’t realize were obsolete:

  • Thin client: Linguistically speaking, Oracle’s desk-terminal approach has been replaced by the virtual desktop.
  • Weblogging (also microblogging): Now just blogging (and Twitter).
  • Intranet: Virtual private network, or VPN. Can also be used to describe an extranet.
  • Push technology: This evolved into RSS (for Really Simple Syndication), a term that, I suspect, will be at death’s door in a year or so.
  • Application Service Provider (ASP): Anyone for cloud computing?

A four-word social media policy

Every organization now has a social media policy, and most of them boil down to the same thing: Don’t be an idiot. For some reason, companies feel compelled to spell out every form that idiocy might take. IBM’s guidelines include items like “don’t pick fights” and “don’t pretend to be someone else;” Kodak suggests you “know what you are talking about.” Coca Cola goes even further, specifying that “it’s not okay to violate other people’s rights.”

It’s as if, instead of saying the dress code is business casual, companies are telling their employees to wear pants. Does the nature of social media somehow lead to corporate overthinking?

Strike down the music

Lily Tomlin once said, “I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else.” I’m willing to bet they’re the force behind the following “innovations” on business websites:

  1. Auto-start music or video. Nothing makes me hit the back key quicker than  a video starting up—sound and all—as soon as I land on a page. The same goes for soundtracks.
  2. Splash intro pages.  Other than giving the designer a place to get his ya-yas out, what purpose do these serve?
  3. Links that lead to .pdf files. Even if I cared about your annual report, my netbook would take ten minutes to load it.
  4. Under construction pages. Either hide the page or finish constructing it. If you don’t have time to write it yourself, call me (973.444.4202).
  5. Forms that re-set. Don’t make me start over because I’ve left something out, or I will seek out your competition just to annoy you.
  6. Crappy “About Us” descriptions. This section is the Web equivalent of speed dating—you have 15 seconds to make me love you.  If you can’t say something interesting, don’t bother.