Translating Techno-Babble

Last week I had the opportunity to review the Association Social Technologies by Principled Innovation LLC. If you haven’t had the chance to review it, I recommend you check out the Executive Summary. The report was built by smart folks who really understand the use of Social Technologies within associations. While reading, one specific comment in a case study caught my attention.

This comment from Association Social Technologies, Exploring the Present, Preparing for the Future Report, Page 20:

We also learned that using the buzzwords sometimes confused people. For example, using the term “podcast” always was attributed to an iPod, using “blog” was attributed to something used for a political campaign, and using “Facebook or MySpace” was attributed to teenagers. We had to use different nomenclature to describe these services. We changed Podcast to “Recorded message”, blog to “a website that allows real-time communication by allowing you to comment”, and Facebook/MySpace were “websites that allowed people with common interests to network and define their own individuality” Odd, but it really helped.

This is an excellent example of how professionals can fall into the trap of looking from the outside in rather than the inside out. Techie folks are often quick to brand technologies, and market folks love to perpetuate brands. What we are quick to forget is these brands are often lost on those outside the inner circle of the tech world. In short, it’s no shock to me that it becomes necessary to step back and translate the techno-babble from time to time. I work in the field, and still have to Google terms from time to time!

What’s odd to me is the lack of organizations that are providing real definitions for the tools they deem so important. Our continued amazement that our members or customers fail to flock to these great new tools we are building. Perhaps we would all benefit from this shared knowledge and simply say what we mean.

I’d recommend investing in the Association Social Technologies reports available for $99 from www.socialtechreport.org. The report contains much more than this little nugget of information.

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