November 09, 2010, 9:33 AM — As technology moves forward, the English language sometimes takes a step backward. You can thank public relations professionals, CEOs, and technology journalists for that. Whether grammatically incorrect or simply annoying, these overused tech buzzwords are painful to hear.
But don't feel too bad if you're guilty of using some of this lingo: For every one of these terms, we can identify a member of our staff who says it regularly (the rest of us just secretly scoff).
1. "Dot-com"--as in, "the dot-com sector had a strong fiscal quarter"--is a victim of progress: It's no longer especially relevant to distinguish Web businesses from "brick-and-mortar" (another outdated term) companies. In fact, if your company isn't on the Web by now, you're doomed.
2. "Tweener" originally referred to a basketball player who was too tall and slow to be a true guard and too shrimpy to hold his own at forward--so he ended up playing for the Warriors or the Clippers. But referring to gadgets that straddle two or more categories or usage patterns--such as tablets, which can be viewed as a midpoint between phones and laptops--as "tweeners" is just obnoxious. Knock it off.
3. "Visionary" has some validity as applied to, say, Joan of Arc, but the term has been abused for decades as a way of offering fawning praise to tech entrepreneurs of all stripes, regardless of how derivative their products are. Double points if a CEO describes himself as a visionary.
4. "Convergence," which once described an important concept in technology, now says practically nothing, given that every gadget you own represents a convergence of at least 10 other things.
5. iPhone (or anything else) "killer" is probably the most overused metaphor of all time in tech headlines. We disavow any knowledge of our ever having used this bit of hyperbole ourselves.
6. "Game-changing" is the kind of trite, nonsensical piffle you get when sports metaphors and nerd metaphors converge in the hands of a journalistic tweener. This one needs to be buried in the Meadowlands end zone with Jimmy Hoffa.