Ooh, baby, it’s a wired world

Happy new year!

In lieu of a words-of-the-year or words-of-the-decade list, which has been ably covered by many other sources (some interesting compilations from the American Dialect Society WOTY and WOTD, the Guardian New words of 2009 and the Global Language Monitor), I’ve been reflecting on how the Internet has influenced our vocabularies over the past decade, ever since the epic fail of civilization epically failed to materialize.

Y2K may, in fact, have been the tipping point. Our capacity for creating alpha-numeric acronyms started moving at high speed: T3 played in theatres; NiN was on the radio; our P2P networks connected. RIM was introducing a handheld data device that could also, magically, make phone calls and Apple invented an MP3 player that could hold 5 gigs of music.

What followed was a torrent of terms once relegated to the digital domain that memed their way into our day-to-day lingo.

Here are some examples of geek lingo gone viral.

Avatar used to refer to a user’s pictorial identifier in online games; now it’s a blockbuster movie.

Interface was co-opted into corporate-speak, an (unintentionally) ironic use for a word that describes the ability of machines to talk to one another.

Reboot is not just a way to fix 99% of computer problems, also something we occasionally want to do to our day.

In-box: Does Staples even sell those plastic trays for your desktop anymore?

Cut and paste has nothing to do with making crafts.

Wireless used to refer to a bra.

Hot spot was a nightclub where all the cool people went.

Thumbing was something you did to your nose to express scorn.

Servers were accessed by snapping your fingers rudely at them.

We surf nowhere near an ocean.

A browser is not something you want to see out your window.

Going Mobile and Memory are no longer just song titles.

“Look it up on the Internet” has become “Google it,” and “Can you tape that show for me to watch later?” has turned into “Can you TiVo it?”

Friend and follow have multi-faceted new meanings and have given rise to two new words: unfriend and unfollow.

The feed and the stream have replaced subscriptions to Field & Stream.

When a link works, everything clicks.

Blackberry and spam were food.

Can you think of others? There’s an app for that: post them here or tweet me.


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