Computer Jargon

I noticed this entry and this one in Travis’s blog. Widely differing levels of technical knowledge can definitely make it hard to communicate; UCS has faced this issue in the past and no doubt will continue to do so in the future.

I think Travis is justified in his response. His job is to deal with a lot of specialized technology, much of which isn’t easily understandable unless you work with it regularly. Personally, I can’t figure out half of what he does, because it’s outside my area of expertise. You can take it from me that Travis’s blog posts aren’t nearly as technical as they could be; of course, he could explain things so everybody can understand them, but that would take a lot of time away from things like making sure your Internet access stays available and your data is safe on our network.
As for me, though, a large part of my job is figuring out how to communicate technical concepts to people who don’t already understand them. So my response to the jargon issue will be a bit different. I’m committed to making my blog entries and FAQ documents as understandable as I can; I won’t repeat the basics every time, but will at least try to explain things, and provide links to definitions and further information.
Also, there’s something that really shouldn’t be necessary to say, but human nature being what it is, somebody probably needs to hear it. The thing is, when we talk about technology, and you don’t understand it, it’s not because we’re intentionally trying to insult you or confuse you. We’re taking our best guess at how to communicate without being either too basic or too technical. We don’t always guess right.
If you don’t understand everything about computers, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Heck, I don’t understand everything about computers. Nobody does. I don’t understand plumbing or accounting or molecular biology, either. If you don’t understand something I say, feel free to give me feedback. Of course, I’d like it if you were a bit more polite than the person who wrote Travis; but don’t be shy either. If people start telling me I’m too technical, or too boring, or whatever, I’ll try to change my tone; that’s part of my job.
Of course, you can also do some research of your own; there’s always the WOU FAQ documents, Google, Wikipedia, or the search on, just to name a few.
Hope that helps somebody.

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