Role Reversal
Kevin Cheng  

Buzzword Inflation: Does Internet Speed Apply to Language?

May 23rd, 2006 by Kevin Cheng :: 12 Comments

Not too long ago, I had an instant message conversation with my brother where I was regaling a humorous anecdote. He responded with:

> Literally laughing out loud

Which at first made me think about one of the other VOIP [features][5] we talked about but then made me think about how the value of our Internet language seems to go down at … Internet speed.

After all “LOL” was supposed to meet the need of expressing that you’re laughing out loud instead of :) or just “[hehe][6]”. (We could debate whether people actually ever **R**oll on the **F**loor **L**aughing **M**y **A**ss **O**ff because frankly I’ve never seen it in person.)

Now we’re seeing the usage of the word Beta become questionable. Betas traditionally are buggy and lack polish. When a video game is in beta, you expect crashes and such. With a plethora of “Web 2.0″ companies coming out with their own products each one seems to be perpetually in Beta. [Flickr][1] takes this to a new level with “Gamma”. In this case, the word Beta is being used to describe products that are in fact very polished and rarely crashing.

[1]: “Flickr”
[5]: “Noise Over IP”
[6]: “Ending Conversations”

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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?