Monday, September 21, 2009

The false prophecy of Gobbledegook

IT WAS AWFULLY good for my ego to read the recent report in the New York Times that PC makers believe it would make their products more seductive to the technically-challenged if they promoted them in plain English. After decades of glowering into a computer screen, I still don't know what all of the little icons mean, nor do I much care. But it did make me a bit defensive with friends who can recite the icons by heart and are generously available to me when my computer refuses to do what I want it to do. I'm sure many of you have had a similar feeling of instant helplessness.

In the Times article headlined "Goodbye, Gobbledygook," I was told that we may see the last of such chaotic collections of letters and numbers as "DDR2 RAM, 5400 R.P.M, hard drives, Turion benchmark scores and the robust 1.2 cache sizes of Core 2 Duos." Even Einstein left us with a simple E=MC2. One didn't need to know what it meant and still get by in life. But computers have become a lot of people's lifelines today. It was quite easy to become marooned in that black hole between megas and bytes. As one who once spent several weeks in a cryptography class in the Air Force, I can tell you it was much simpler than the coded language of the PC culture.

So hooray for Deborah Conrad, vice president of corporate marketing at Intel. She conceded, "We were our own worst enemy, making it confusing about which chip is best for a computer." Her willingness to share the blame for my confusion is sunny progress. I thought of how valuable she could be in other venues when I heard the GOP House leader John Boehner, who has called President Obamaa socialist, insisting that he - and here's the robust 1.2 cache part -didn't really call him a socialist, at least not exactly in those terms, or maybe in no terms at all, because what he meant was, you know, Americans are worried. Maybe not exactly, but it's close enough. But I think I heard him say something about worried Americans, which is not news because we all know how we are reminded daily by the Tea Parties that we are living in fear already. How profound!

Goodbye, Gobbledegook? Not yet, folks. With the Boehner crowd, not even close.

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