Here are my candidates for words of the year. Not surprisingly, most of them

are related to computers and the Internet. The most significant ones are:

cybercasting, DVD, legacy, millennium bug, Network Computer, PCS, and push. My

favorites are: cradle cams, geeksploitation, Salinger effect, serendipity

search, and spamouflage.

avatar - Used in graphical chat rooms such as The Palace and 3D virtual worlds

to refer to the graphical representation of a user. The computer use of the

term is thought to have originated with Carnegie-Mellon University UNIX

hackers (to describe someone with "root" access) and was later popularized (in

the VR sense) in Neal Stephenson's 1992 sci-fi novel _Snow Crash_.

chopsocky - Movie industry slang for the currently-popular Hong Kong hyper-

violent action films that enjoyed an explosion of popularity in the US and

Europe in '97 and crossed over into American films such as "Rumble in the

Bronx" and "Supercop."

cradle cams, kiddie cams - The increasingly popular Web cameras being

installed in daycare centers and grade schools so that parents can monitor

their children from their desktops at home and work. Video cameras that are

set up surreptiously to monitor nannies and babysitters are called "nanny


cybercasting, webcasting, netcasting - "Broadcasting" audio and/or video over

the Internet in real time (using programs like RealAudio). The technology for

doing this has been slow in developing (esp. as modem speeds are still

relatively slow), but advances in RealAudio/Video in 1997 caused producers and

consumers to take cybercasting much more seriously.

digipet - The generic term for electronic toys that simulate a real-world pet,

requiring constant care and feeding. The most widely known digipet is the

Japanese Tamagocchi (or Tamagotchi).

DVD ["Digital Versatile Disc" (or "Disk"), orig. "Digital Video Disc"] -

Optical disk technology that is expected to replace the CD-ROM and the audio

compact disc in the next few years. A DVD holds hold 28 times more information

that a CD-ROM.

geeksploitation - Taking advantage of twenty-something digital workers,

flushed with pioneer enthusiasm and willing to work long hours if bolstered by

junk food, flexible work schedules, and no dress code. "Rolling Stone,"

"MSNBC's The Site," and "Nightline" all did stories about geeksploitation in


handhelds - Digital devices such as PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants),

electronic organizers, and handheld PCs (PCs that run Windows CE). Any

computers that can be held in one hand. Also "palmtop."

legacy (programmers, systems, programs, data, etc.) - Of or pertaining to

technology that existed prior to a certain period of time. Dealing with legacy

computer systems and data has always been a problem (i.e. translating old

files and programs to current computer technology), but the situation has

become more pronounced because of the Y2K bug and the need to modify old

computer programs to accept year 2000+ dating. See "millennium bug."

micropayments, microtransactions, micromoney - Scheme for transferring small

amounts of money from a credit card account each time you access intellectual

property on the Internet.

millennium bug, Y2K bug, Year 2000 Problem, Year 2000 crisis, digital doomsday

- Of or pertaining to the problem that exists in computers and embedded

computer controllers (in machines and appliances) that cannot handle dates

after 1999. At 12:01 Jan. 1, 2000, computers (and other digital devices) that

are not Y2K-ready will think it's Jan. 1, 1900 and become confused, if not

stop working altogether.

Network Computer (or "NC") - A pared-down, low-cost computer that has no disk

drives, no expansion slots and is centrally served with software over a

network where datafiles are also stored. The idea of the NC is to make a cheap

computer for consumers who can't afford a regular PC and for businesses that

need multiple low-cost computers on an office network. A "NetPC" is a thin

client that's similar to an NC, but with a slightly different set of standards

for its components (and different computer manufacturers invested in it). See

"thin client."

-palooza - The Lollapalooza "alternative" rock festival has spawned many

imitators and events that poke fun by adding "-palooza" to their name.

Witness: Lesbopalooza,

Noise-a-palooza, Lounge-a-palooza, Tele-palooza, Estropalooza, Alapalooza (as

in Weird Al).

PCS (Personal Communications Services) - The next generation of wireless

communications technologies. PCS offers mobile phone, pager, Web, and email

services andspan effect, Greenspan factor - The aftermath of comments made by

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on the U.S. or world economy. "The

post-Greenspan euphoria has subsided around most of the globe."

push - The automatic delivery of customized Internet content to one's desktop.

Push was certainly the most over-hyped technology in '97, gaining attention

(and investments) from media companies and advertisers who saw an opportunity

to make the Net more like television, a technology with which they're already

comfortable and have a proven track record. Many push companies that emerged

at the beginning of the year seemed to have folded or switched gears by the

end of it, and the breathless enthusiasm of the computer trades and magazines

like Wired seems to have all but vanished. Push spawned a number of new terms

applied to the Net such as "channels" (for areas of a website or a push

service), "networks" (groups of websites), and "interstitials" (ads that pop

up as you move from one webpage to another). The opposite of push is pull

(where you go out and get the material you desire rather than having it sent


thin client - A client computer in a client/server relationship that performs

very little data processing. The processing is done on the server side and the

client only processes the output to the screen. This is called a thin

client/fat server environment. An X Window terminal would be an example of a

thin client. A desktop PC is called a fat client. In 1997, the term thin

client became synonymous with the Network Computer (or NC), which actually

does a fair amount of data processing, but the programs used are stored on a

remote server. See "Network Computer."

Salinger effect - Believing everything one reads on the Internet. Online

gullibility. Coined soon after former Kennedy press secretary Pierre Salinger

came forward with information he got from the Internet purporting that TWA

flight 800 was downed by a US Navy missile. Also "pulling a Salinger" and

"being Salingered."

serendipity search - An Internet search where one finds interesting and

valuable things that were not intended in the original search. Searching

willy-nilly. "I found this really cool site on Tiki collecting during a

serendipity search."

[The many flavors of "spam" (unwanted ad-related email and BBS postings)

continued to be popular:]

spam bait - erroneous email addresses that are put on Web pages to lure

"spambots" (clogging spammers mailing lists with junk addresses). Also called

spam chaff, spam trap, or spider poison. See "spambot."

spambot - a program that automatically scoops up email addresses on Web pages

for spammers (This type of software robot is also called a spider or a

webcrawler). Also, a bot that automatically posts ads on newsgroups.

spamhaters - netizens who've gone on a crusade against spammers.

spamouflage - A non-spam looking header on an email message or newsgroup

posting designed to get the reader to open it (e.g. "Long time no talk to," "I

miss you!")

spam wars - the constant back and forth battles between spammers, spamhaters,

and legislators.

spamdexing - using various tricks in an HTML document to force your page to

the top of a Web search.

Spam King - name given to notorious spammers such as Jeff Slaton (president of

the now-defunct Eunuchs Etc.) and Sanford Wallace (president of

CyberPromotions). Mr. Wallace is commonly referred to as "Spamford" among


stalkerazzi - Paparazzi who will go to just about any lengths to get the shot

they desire. This term continued to gain in popularity throughout the year,

especially after Lady Di's death.

-war (cyberwar, infowar, Java wars, browser wars, spam wars) War and rumors of

war seemed to be everywhere on the Net this year.

Webring (or "Web ring") - A series of websites on a particular topic that are

linked together in a ring so that you can visit one site after another,

eventually returning to the first site. As of July 1997, there were 50,000

sites on 14,486 Webrings.

World Wide Wait - What started out as a humorous interpretation of "WWW"

became a popular newspaper headline and marketing slogan on the problem of

increasing lag times on Internet connections.