Tag Archives: social media

Beyond Mere Words

Amazon, which has an answer to just about any need, features a mug that got me thinking… It raises the perplexing question – Why is ‘abbreviation such a long word?’

It got me ruminating again about acronyms and abbreviations, those clever insider codes that enhance the communication mores and egos of the cognoscenti.

As an English major who until recently thought that LOL meant Little Old Lady I am conditioned to take a radical (that’s “of or going to the root” in a traditional word dictionary) to the challenge of adapting to the social media parlance (SMP).  The social media luddites (SMLs)  tend to disparage SMP, in part because they have no facility in decoding.

Ron Callari’s attitude as expressed in InventorSpot set a tone that lured me to further Super Bowl Sunday (SBS) Reflections on acronyms, abbreviations and initials.  Contemplation has led to the harsh truth that tweets are nothing more than the 21st Century manifestation of ancient verbal rites.  From time immemorial every trade and profession has closely guarded its secret acronymic code.  What’s new is that today’s communications tools and vocabulary are within reach of the unwashed – many of whom are kids who don’t have a high school diploma, much less a Professional Degree.

To wit:

ü     Doctors (MDs) and other health care providers (eg RN’s) and health care agencies (eg FDA, NLM, MDH)   are widely renowned for their clear choice of words (COW).  It’s the patients who need access to their insider language.  The PDR is a start and the MedLexicon is one of several deciphering tools of the medical profession.

ü     Unlike most cultures, the sports world is recognized as a self-contained universe.  As a separate world it has its own colorful language, including an inner sanctum of acronyms known but to the fans and sportscasters, a vocabulary at times unfamiliar to those in the temperature controlled suites where the elite meet.  Though there is no common abbreviation language, the NFL all-caps lexicon suggests the style.

ü     Wall Street Jargon (WSJ), spoken most often by MBA’s and CEO’s, is perhaps intentionally beyond reach of the masses.  Still, even the suits depend on tools. Lacking an MBA I did check it out – it was a sort of Alice in Wonderland (AIW) hole out of which I crawled ASAP.

ü     Widely known for articulate expression of cogent thinking, the federal government stands out for its capacity to translate government functions to a pure form of acronymic communication.  There’s a guide, of course.  I’m sure there’s an abbreviation for that title but I didn’t bother looking.

ü     Closely related to and ostensibly a function of the federal government is the military industrial complex.  Though the military is not entirely forthcoming about their culture or their short-cut language, there are some decoding tips.

ü     Librarians (usually MSLS’s from ALA accredited institutions) are predictably fluent in capital letter lingo.  Because librarians need to be multi-acronym-fluent their tools are legion.  I somewhat favored the ODLIS, in part because it’s current, but also because it’s in large print with good links.

ü     Educators, particularly those in administrative positions (PhD’s and EdD’s), are driven to creativity in all endeavors, including the Creation and Advancement of Abbreviations. (CAA)  Though vehemently opposed to students’ use of cheat sheets principals and superintendents  depend at times to their professional crib sheet.

ü     If you’re thinking lawyers with JD’s don’t use abbreviations to clarify the intricacies of their chosen trade, check their secret word weapon.

ü     Since I’m writing this on the Sabbath, it seemed proper to check the ways in which world religions have adopted the language of abbreviation.  TMI (Too Much Information).  From the banquet of options I chose one small morsel, mostly because it offered insight into the distracting world of Christian bumper stickers

ü     You know the champions!  There can be no question that the cosmos will never know a culture that can hold a candle to technology. In time the culture of technology will devolve into sub-cultures, thus growing organically in application, integration and acronymization of unique languages that merge the abbreviated tongues of multiple cultures. Neophytes may want to check out this primer with the understanding that the language of technology morphs by the nano-second.  Around the globe there are squadrons of earnest people with freshly minted EEDs and PhDs in IT/CS working on just that linguistic challenge.

If perchance you just want to know what your doctor, your attorney, your broker, or your kid is trying to say, check something basic like the AcronymFinder, home of some 1,000,000+ acronym definitions. It’s one of many options.  Meanwhile, Amazon must have warehouses full of traditional ink on paper versions from days gone by – with a mug thrown in as a bonus.

Needless to say, there is an Acronym Finder Blog that will keep you UTD as the world of acronyns, abbreviations and initials.  Follow along as acronyms, abbreviations and initials (AAIs)  expand and replace traditional nouns, verbs and adjectives as the primary mode of communication of ideas and information among members of the human race (HR).

The world awaits your unique contribution to the primordial buzzword soup.  Your original acronym/abbreviation with precise definition is welcome here.


Patch on the Move

Sooner rather than later AOL’s Patch is making mighty leaps in this direction.  Just as the company is launching its 100th site, Patch, the hyper-local web-based news machine, will start showing up in an additional 500 communities this year.  AOL’s strategy is to restructure as a destination for a range of hyper-local content.

Reuters reports that Jon Brod, executive VP for AOL Local and a Patch founder, anticipates that, as legacy media falters there is chasm of quality information at the community level.  According to ReutersPatch is just one part of AOL’s content offering, which also includes Seed, a platform that relies on user-generated material on popular topics, and several popular topic-specific sites like Engadget, which is dedicated to consumer electronics and tech gadgets.”

As noted in a previous blog, keep an eye on Patch – and its siblings — no doubt coming soon to your community, especially if you live in an upper-income burb.

My earlier Patch post


This post picks up about where the post re. content mills left off.  Though content production and manipulation is a fast-moving field in which I would not pretend to keep up I do like to drop in at times to see what’s happening and what’s about to happen in this community.  For that reason I’ve been tracking insofar as possible the inexorable march of AOL’s Patch.  As Patch marches from East to West and West to East I’m pretty sure the Twin Cities area, particularly the affluent suburbs, is on their pin map.

Librarian that I am in my DNA I’m done some research and will send readers to the primary sources.  Still, there are some universal basics I can synthesize from a number of references. To wit:

  • The current category under which Patch more or less fits is “hyperlocal”.  The target is a community under 50,000.  More specifically the prime target is a wealthy suburban community that has a lot of interest in knowing more about what’s happening in their hometown, i.e. the center of the known world.   ( AOL hits the big cities with Going.com.)
  • Patch is extraordinarily aggressive in its hiring, marketing, advertising, and promotion.
  • AOL is pouring buckets of money into Patch ($50 million through the end of 2010).
  • Much of that lucre goes to snatching up local journalists, including the employed and the unemployed, who work long hours multitasking, managing responsibilities traditionally the province of a large and diverse staff.
  • Patch employees including local editors, salespeople, advertising directors and reporters work in the trenches, i.e. from home.
  • Reporters view themselves as more – or other – than reporters, more as community organizers.
  • Social media are used rather sparingly in Patch’s strategies.
  • Feedback on hyperlocal initiatives and the advance of Patch is at a premium since neither revenue nor traffic data are provided.
  • The battle between hyperlocal Patch and the foray of legacy media into local reporting is inevitable and proximate.

As far as I can see it’s the folks in media/journalism who are sharing their thoughts about Patch and other hyperlocal initiatives at this point.  Many describe their local experiences and their expectations re. the future of Patch.  Still, the impact of initiatives such as Patch reaches far beyond the work of a small cadre of energetic journalists in any one community.  The time for a community to think about the implications is before the advance team comes to town.

Some links to others’ observations about hyperlocal media in general, Patch in particular:

Andria Krewson, AOL Patch and MainStreetConnect Expand Hyper-Local News, July 2010.

Sarah Studley, One Patch at a Time:  How AOL Plans to Rescue Local News, March 2010

Hard Times Working the Patch, August 2010, posted by Dan Kennedy
I added more content on this subject here on 8-19-2010.