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Subject:RE: Hi-tech babble baffles many From:eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com To:"TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Tue, 8 Jul 2003 14:02:23 -0400
>>Take the term ATM (first one that comes to mind). Is it referring to
>>Asynchronous Transfer Mode, Automatic Teller Machine, Adobe Type Manager?
>>This one might be obvious from context, but can you guarantee that and can
>>you guarantee that it's true in all cases?
No you can't. But if you qualify the abbreviations as: bank ATM, font manager
ATM, ATM communication (I'm stretching here) do you need to know what ATM stands
for to understand the technology? If I KNOW your referring to the obnoxious
machine at the bank, a program that controls fonts, or a communication protocol,
do I have any need to know the correct definition? Of course in this example
there are some telling things that DO control your understanding. If talking
computer communication and ATM then you NEED to the difference between
synchronous and asynchronous. But does it matter one whit whether you thing the
M stands for Mode or Method? How about if you hadn't a clue T meant transfer but
you knew it was about communication? As for Adobe ATM, as long as you know
you're talking about font management and the specific product from Adobe, how
does knowledge of what ATM stands for help in your understanding or mastery of
how ATM works and what it does? Indeed knowing all three definitions and the
technologies behind them helps not one bit if the actual use of ATM is obscure.
But that was not the direction of my argument. My argument is that as long as
the use of the acronym is clear to your intended audience what's the difference
whether they know what it stands for or not. This seemed to be the gripe of the
original and subsequent posts, not whether different meanings of the same
acronym obscure the use.
Here's a good example, I used to be a whiz FORTRAN programmer in college. Forgot
all about it and then three years later had to refamiliarise myself with it for
a couple of surprise university assignments. Don't think I EVER knew what it
stood for. Until I just looked it up on acronym finder wasn't certain if it was
or was not an acronym. Turns out it is. Turns out to be "Formula Translation".
Now that we know what it stands for, does that mean until now my knowledge and
skill with FORTRAN was somehow lacking? Does it mean that those on the list that
had never heard of FORTRAN before now have any understanding of the language? If
someone were to ask me what FORTRAN was, the least useful thing I could do is
provide them with the definition. I could however have them fully understand
what it is and even teach them to program without EVER telling them the
definition or even knowing it myself.
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