HOW TO Speak Techie—Without Sounding Like a Robot

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Technology is evolving faster than ever, it seems, and with it comes a whole new language for describing those things, actions, products, and—yes—robots, that didn’t exist just a few years ago. But, just as we learned to swap out “chimney sweeps” for “HVAC repairmen,” we can evolve and start embracing the next generation of tech terms.

A few basics to help you shine at your next cocktail party or connect with your kids:

  • Algorithm – Basically, a set of instructions for a program, but also the complex set of calculations that seems to magically tailor what you see in searches, on ads, and on your social media feeds.
  • Application (app, for short) – Software designed to complete a specific task, often available on your phone.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Machines simulating (usually very quickly) human actions. AI is being embraced in nearly every industry to streamline repeatable jobs, expedite tasks, learn preferences, and even answer more and more complex questions.
  • Bug – An error in the code that manifests in strange functioning or errors on a website.
  • Cloud computing – Rather than storing your data on your hard drive, data is stored on a remote server.
  • Front end vs back end – The front end of an app is what you, the user, see and interact with, while the back end is the server side that provides functionality.
  • Database – Think of this as the world’s biggest closet for information, accessible by computers, and constantly growing.
  • Data mining – Essentially, all companies do this today. They take data they collect from surveys, feedback, and buying practices and tailor their marketing tactics based on that data.
  • Pixels per inch (PPI) – This measurement defies how clear a digital image is. The higher the number (on a monitor or phone screen), the sharper the image.
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) – These networks allow you to use a public internet connection as if it were private (providing you more security and less chance of being hacked).

There! You’re now ready for an internship at Google or at least a conversation with your neighbor the programmer. And if this new jargon is still feeling foreign, don’t worry. There’s always new tech—and the language to describe it!—just on the horizon.

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