Acronyms do not become words that fast!

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/09/27 00:01 -07:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/michkap/archive/2005/09/27/474261.aspx


I used to hear a story from a colleague about an Admin who would talk about how someone with status was a Very "V.I.P." person (from the description she was someone who you could tell was putting the quotes there, even if she was speaking).

This is obviously silly since V.I.P. stands for Very Important Person. It simply makes no sense to talk about a very very important person person!

Anyway, tonight I went to see Ari Bixhorn and Richard Turner talk about Indigo. It was a cool talk and even came with a T-shirt I might wear at some point due to the cool logo image thingy:

Of course they explained how it was not called Indigo anymore; it was actually called W.C.F., or Windows Communication Foundation. they were unable to repress the shudder that I am sure we all felt.

Which is of (in my opinion) the worst product name for a cool code name since Internet Studio became Visual Interdev. But I'll talk about code names some time soon. I do like Ari's thought that the cooler the code name, the worse the product name -- this could henceforth be codified as Bixhorn's Law, if no one had yet stated it for the record....

The problem, however, was that toward the of the talk, they said (and what was said was on the slide), in true Mickey Blue Eyes The La Trattoria style:

WCF Foundation

Now obviously there is a language phenomenon where acronyms like RADAR, LASER, and SONAR become words to many people who do not even know what they stand for, or even if they stand for anything. In computers it happens with BIOS, NT, and DOS and a million other terms just as readily. I have heard people say Light Amplified LASER and BIOS system and not shuddered more than momentarily.

But WCF Foundation?

That awful name for what looks to be the coolest thing since sliced bread (or more accurately, the coolest thing since the delivery service that can get the sliced bread delivered in the distributed environment!) is in no way mature enlough tp have lost its acronym status!

Anyway, I am taking the day off for my birthday, though I may end with a post or two here that may or may not be technical. In the meantime, do your best to remember what silly acronyms stand for so you can correct those from the camp of The La Trattoria, if you know what I mean! :-)


# Jonathan on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 4:18 AM:

NIC Card *shudder*

# Gabe on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 5:26 AM:

It sounds like you're not the type of person to enter your PIN number into an ATM machine.

In this case, though, WCF is just a meaningless term. Putting the "foundation" after it gives it more cognitive meaning. They could have called it "WC Foundation", but then you might still wonder what "WCF" is.

I think we're just going to end up with the acronym WxF, the way we got VxD, ActiveX, and DirectX.

# CornedBee on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 7:40 AM:

It's made worse because WCF cannot be pronounced as a word, like RADAR, LASER and BIOS can be (and are). Such things usually take far longer to become "words", if they ever do.

# McGurk on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 8:58 AM:

EFF IT! You know it'll be "Indigo," "Avalon," and "LONGHORN" forever. Vista? WWF? WTF? The cool names will stick.

# Travis Owens on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 8:59 AM:

IMHO these ambiguous acronyms will not be remembered at all.

Things like "Avalon" and "Indigo" are easier to remember.

It sounds like to me somebody higher on the food chain decided to change the names to make it "all important and official" but Apple has already proved that personal names like "Panther" and "Tiger" are embraced by the public.

# Maurits on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:36 AM:

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=32627#32627

# Jeff D. on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:48 AM:

Don't forget those FAT tables, ACL lists, ASF files, WMF files, et al.

And a non-acronym variant on this would be the foreign language phrases that get imported and misused regularly. "Don't forget the 'con queso' for your nachos," or "Would you like more 'au jus' for your beef dip?"

But my favourite abused acronym would be, "I can't remember my PIN number."

# Mihai on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 12:33 PM:

I got the essential from this post: Happy birthday!

# Vorn on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 4:53 PM:

The ATM machine!

Vorn

# Michael S. Kaplan on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 5:00 PM:

Enter your personal PIN number into the ATM machine....

# jonny on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 5:36 PM:

What about windows boot screen that says "...NT Technology"

# David on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:15 PM:

If we all keep using "Avalon" and "Indigo," then we'll all know what we're talking about. Boycott the W*F nonsense! They can't force-feed us non-employees the Kool-Aid :).

# josh on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:45 PM:

"FAT table" is not entirely redundant. FAT is a filesystem characterized by its allocation tables. A FAT table would refer to one of those tables, as distinct from a table for some other system. (similarly for "NT Technology," even if the T actually did stand for "technology.")

Nachos con queso, sadly, isn't redundant either. I've ordered nachos and gotten pretty much everything *except* cheese. Disappointing.

# orion on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 1:09 PM:

(The 'The Tar' Tar pits).

Though since that example is old to me, I had to giggle at "The La Trattoria".

# Luke on Thursday, September 29, 2005 5:25 AM:

The one that gets me every time is LCD Display - it's not even an acronym, it's an initialism so it can't even pretend to be a word! Aaaaah!

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