ROVIN' AND RAVIN' WITH MIKE
Copyright © 2001, 1999 by Michael Segers, Brought to you by Peanut.org
More years ago than I care to remember, I was living, working, and even thriving in the wilds of Greenwich Village, in the southern quarter of the isle of Manhattan in New York City. At the office of the international literary organization where I worked, my boss was Danish; we often had business with a printer who, being of European Jewish descent, spoke Yiddish as his primary language, and his assistant was Puerto Rican. The four of us got along quite well, but I noticed one day that although we all spoke English of a sort, whenever we began to count boxes or books, each of us reverted to the original language: Danish, Yiddish, Spanish, or south Georgian, y’all.
Not since the tower of Babel had there been such a multilingual cacophany as we sometimes had in the closet where we stored boxes of directories for the organization, which the printer and his assistant provided for us.
When we log onto the Internet, English is the language of choice, just as it is in international aviation. (A Japanese pilot coming into a Portuguese airport will communicate in English, just as he will when coming into a Japanese airport.)
But, there is another language always present… the dreaded Netspeak! It sounds like English, but it reaches out to include symbols, odd meanings, even ways of writing English to become a distinct dialect.
So, by way of public service (as this column always is), I offer you a sampling of Netspeak, the language of the Internet. As you read over these definitions, keep in mind that this wild and wacky lingo and all that it represents is brought to you and brought into your life by our own little Peanut.org. So, take a deep breath, maybe write a check to contribute to Peanut.org, and happy reading!
~ Any key – is an important part of instructions for many computer programs, often in the form of "Hit Any Key to continue." Supposedly, the most common complaint of new computer owners is that they cannot find the Any key.
~ Client – someone who uses a computer network. At Peanut.org, the preferred word is "friend."
~ Cyberspace/Internet/"Information super-highway" – these words come from science fiction, naming the alternative reality found in the world wide networking of computers and their humans. Cyberspace is so full of con women and men, brawls, flames, lawlessness, bad manners, autopsy photos, and virtual gold in them thar electronic hills that it is reassuring to have a nice little computerized town like our Peanut.org to come home to.
~ E-mail - the abbreviation for "electronic mail," the basic medium of communication in Cyberspace. You must enter the e-mail address correctly or your message will bounce. Just push that eagerly waiting button, and you can send mail to anyone with access to a computer anywhere on earth, not just fellow Peanut-nuts on Peanut.org.
~ Emotigram - a combination of keyboard symbols used to express an emotion. The symbol :-) is a sideways representation of a smiling face, used to express joy, as in, "Hey, I’ve just contributed to Peanut.org :-)" or sarcasm, as in "America On-Line is a much better deal :-)"
~ FAQ - "Frequently Asked Questions," a list of questions with answers available on the Internet on subjects ranging from Manx cats to Australian films.
~ Flame - a nasty e-mail message which may trash your parents, your computer, your dog and your cat. To receive a flame is to be flamed.
~ FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, the standard for transferring software from one computer to another.
~ Gopher - an amiable beast, by now rather outdated, which digs through a text-based "gopher-space" for information.
~ Hacker - someone with more sense than common sense, who figures out how to do things to a computer network that shouldn’t be done… and goes ahead and does them.
~ Mailing list - a discussion group or list-server that serves (usually free) subscribers who share interests or problems—German diabetics, drinkers of a mushroom tea, four-wheel-drive enthusiasts in Oregon.
~ Netiquette - the developing code of acceptable behavior on the ‘net. It is bad netiquette, for example, to send a message in ALL CAPITALS, for that is the ‘net’s equivalent of SHOUTING!!!
~ Netizen - one who frequents Cyberspace, that is, one who is logged on to the Internet, say, through Peanut.org. Obsessive netizens are netnuts, and the second or sometimes first language of a netizen is Netspeak.
~ Password - the key to unlock your account with a comuter network. I share my e-mail address with readers, but no one knows my password except my Manx cat. (I don’t trust my Maine coon cat enough.) If you wouldn’t share your PIN (Personal Identification Number) for your bank card with someone, don’t share your password either.
~ To post - to add information, ideas, opinions to an archive, a forum, or a discussion group.
~ September 1994 – the first and still only free computer access network in the state of Georgia went online. That was our own Peanut.org. Keep the cheering low for now, please.
~ Snail-mail - the thirty-something-cents-an-ounce variety that is not stopped by rain nor sleet nor snow but surely seems slow in comparison to e-mail.
~ To surf or cruise the Net - to browse through a variety of options just to see what a variety of options one has. Since there is no comparable word for interacting with a gopher, I suggest that one may wrestle, even wrassle a gopher. Just remember, you can surf, cruise, wrestle, probably even play croquet on our http://www.peanut.org!
~ SYSOP (System Operator) - the human element in any computer network, raising money when he can and raising tempers when he does not intend to. The ideal SYSOP for a local network like ours has no job, no family, no nerves, and gets along on less than an hour of sleep a night.
~ Telnet - Internet standard for remote terminal connection, without a capital letter, unlike the Internet.
~ Virus - a program that can reproduce itself in other programs, and so be passed, contagiously, from one computer to another.
~ Week - seven days, about seven times as much time as you need for anything that you read about the Internet, including this column, to become obsolete.
~ World Wide Web - a special part of the Internet, as Worth County is a special part of Georgia. You can find more information than anyone ever could use, both text and graphics, in a "hypertext" which lets you slide, skip, or surf from other related subjects and sites.
This is not the end of this glossary, just a chance to pause in my rovin’ and ravin’ to look at just how much is available to us at Peanut.org. Till next time, keep your feet dry and your heart and e-mail full of very noble thoughts. And, if you run across an Internet word that you aren't familiar with, go to Webopedia.
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