8 Commonly Misunderstood or Overused Words in Computer Science

In technology, there are a host of words that are both overused and misunderstood. As technology evolves, so does our vocabulary. When we use shorthand or slang for commonly used words, their true meaning can become blurred. As William Souder wrote in 2014 for MinnPost, “I am constantly reminded that our common understanding of ‘ordinary’ words is no longer what it used to be. Everyday language is increasingly an approximation of correct English. People are misusing words more and more frequently, confusing supposed meanings with original meanings and picking up speech habits only because some mistakes have become so common that everyone now understands them to mean what they didn’t mean. in the first place.

In the higher education and corporate sectors, many shortcuts and buzzwords are used to get to the point faster or to demonstrate familiarity with current trends. Tom Musbach wrote for Fast Company last week: “There is nothing wrong with having a set of terms, a common lexicon, by which people in a given field or industry can easily communicate. That’s what business buzzwords are – a set of terms that are easily understood in the corporate environment. When used correctly and in context, these buzzwords serve as something of a linguistic shortcut. However, when overused or misused, buzzwords can overshadow or even distort overall communication. Using too many buzzwords can undermine an individual’s credibility as an independent, intelligent, and creative thinker.

In technology, we use a complex web of acronyms, abbreviations and technical jargon. Some of these words seep into our everyday vocabulary across disciplines and into our daily lives. This process can evolve over time or happen in a fraction of a second, thanks to Twitter or TikTok. The following list can provide guidance on better word accuracy and hopefully avoid those “rolling eyes” in meetings or listening to a potential recruit display their technical acumen.

1) hacked


People tend to jump to conclusions when they think they’ve been hacked, especially with Facebook. If someone is already your Facebook friend, you can’t send them another friend request. What has more likely happened is that your account has been cloned. This happens when someone creates a new Facebook account, using your name but not your email address, and pictures of you on their account, or when they search your public posts to find out who your Facebook friends are , then send new friend requests from the new fake account. Most of the time Facebook accounts are not hacked but cloned.

When people receive friend requests that have already been accepted, they contact their friends and say, “I’ve been hacked!” Of course, your account maybe hacked if someone gets their hands on your password. As a precaution, change your password often, enable two-factor authentication, check for unrecognized logins, and report the incident to Facebook. Rather than sending out “I’ve been hacked” warning messages, just tell people to ignore new friend requests.

This heightened phobia of “getting hacked” can be attributed to the dramatic increase in cyberattacks. This is illustrated in a Google Ngram below, an “online word search engine that plots the frequencies of any set of search strings using an annual count of n-grams found in print sources between 1500 and 2019” .

2) Bandwidth


This word can make your eyes roll when someone walks into your office asking if you have the bandwidth to do a job. Bandwidth is defined as “the maximum amount of data (or volume) transmitted over a path or connection in a given amount of time”. Today, the term is used to infer how much time you have. As Google Ngram shows, bandwidth seems to coincide with the explosion of the internet. It may be more accurate to ask someone if they have time available.


3) Disruption


A disturbance can be described as a disturbance that interrupts an event, activity or process. It could be a profound modification of an existing market sector of a process thanks to innovative technologies. Sometimes the words “disruption” and “digital transformation” in higher education are used interchangeably, which is not accurate.

Matt Shearer of IT ProPortal wrote last year: “Disruption has been happening ever since people started exchanging goods and services. You could also use this term to describe the evolution of strategic innovation since the dawn of time. It’s a more philosophical definition… Digital transformation, on the other hand, is about using technology to become and stay agile. Agility allows businesses to adapt to different markets and market conditions, so they can cope with external disruptions. »

While disruption and digital transformation are linked, Shearer pointed out, “digital transformation only becomes part of the disruption story when done right.” Instead, we should use a more positive term like innovation.

4) Vulnerability


A vulnerability, usually related to cybersecurity, arises when your computer network potentially allows unauthorized access to systems and data. This word comes up frequently during cybersecurity audits. A vulnerability does not mean your system has been compromised, but your network may be infiltrated if the proper cyber protection tools are not in place. Sometimes the words vulnerability and incident are used interchangeably.

5) Incident


A cybersecurity incident means that someone or something has successfully bypassed a vulnerability in a network or system. It also happens in cybersecurity audits or when a system has been compromised, hacked or infiltrated, and if malware or ransomware has been deployed. Carefully using the correct description during an audit or cyberattack is crucial.

6) Client software


The client software is a specific application installed on your computer. For non-IT end users, it would be simpler to say it’s the software application loaded on your desktop or laptop computer.

7) Take this offline

/ˈtāk ˈt͟his ˈȯf-ˈlīn/

This is a common phrase when people want to take or move the conversation to another separate meeting, either because the topic is “off track”, to avoid conflict, or because further discussion is needed. . It might be more accurate to say, “we need to hold a separate meeting on the subject”.

8) Fruit at your fingertips

/ˈlō-ˈhaŋ-iŋ ˈfrüt/

Low fruit refers to the lower fruits of the tree which are easier to grasp. In meetings, the phrase has become a metaphor describing tasks that can be easily and quickly accomplished. Some may categorize the saying as overused or boring. Spencer Bowen, program director of the nonprofit accelerator AgStart, summed it up in Comstock magazine: “Don’t just use platitudes. If you plan to deploy this overused kitschy term, be sure to associate it with something you’re going to do for a person.

Next year there will likely be another list of overused words as we continue to integrate technology into our work and daily lives. Let’s hope for clarity, accuracy and brevity in our word choices, so that we can better understand and communicate effectively. As Thomas Jefferson reminds us, “The most precious of all talents is that of never using two words when one will suffice.” Let’s make sure the word and definition are correct.

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