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
-palooza - The Lollapalooza "alternative" rock festival has spawned many
imitators and events that poke fun by adding "-palooza" to their name.
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
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
[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
spam wars - the constant back and forth battles between spammers, spamhaters,
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.