Re: To utilize or not to utilize

Subject: Re: To utilize or not to utilize
From: SIANNON -at- VISUS -dot- JNJ -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2001 12:53:15


While I understand and agree with the arguments presented on why to use the
shorter word over the longer word, I do not agree that the three words are
*always* identical in a user's mind.

Connotatively, in a technical-resource context, I perceive the words
"utilization" and "usage" as indicating the volume or property of the
resource's use, and the word "use" with the method by which something is
used. "Bandwidth Utilization" and "Bandwidth Usage" both indicate to me
that the window will describe the cumulative data about various properties
of the bandwidth (volume per user, users per date range, etc.). "Bandwidth
Use" sounds more like the heading for instructions describing to the user
how to use the bandwidth.

I would recommed "usage" over "use".

FWIW, I have almost always heard the word "utilization" used in the context
of describing network resources (the only other word I recall hearing was
"usage", in a somewhat different context), so the argument about an
industry standard may be valid. If the interface is designed for a
subgroup of users for whom a specific jargon word is regular usage, does it
benefit the user to have that word replaced by another they aren't used to
seeing in that context?

This brings up a broader question, regarding targeted development
(specifically, regarding development of products aimed at groups of users
that have their own subculture and jargon): at what point _do_ we draw a
line in the sand on jargon, when that jargon is the norm for the _specific_
user profile?

I think this question is a common issue for those writing to support
industry-specific products.

Shauna Iannone
Tech Writer, American Computing Technologies,
currently supporting 3GT CIM at Vistakon
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher
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program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects.
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