Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mechanically Correct

I keep seeing the terms “steamroller” and “steam shovel” in things I read. In this era of Political Correctness, when a mailman is more accurately called a “letter carrier” and a fireman is now a “firefighter,” can we finally bury these steam-power terms that have been outdated for nearly a century?

I recommend “power roller” and “power shovel.” Don’t confuse “power shovel” with “backhoe,” which is merely a type of power shovel. And “earth mover” applies to all earth moving equipment, not just power shovels.

Also, I’d like to see the terms “tape,” “disc,” “CD” and “DVD” removed from common communications, since technology changes so often, they’re doomed to become obsolete soon anyway. I know lots of people personally who don’t actually know which term applies to which media, and use them interchangeably. My mother-in-law refers to movie DVDs as “tapes.” My brother refers to the hard drive in his computer as a “CD-ROM.”

Instead, I suggest we call all forms of recordable storage as “media.” It’s not often that the conversation requires that we identify which type of media, exactly. More often than not, it’s implied by context. Everyone will know you’re not talking about videotape. And if DVDs are replaced by Blu-Ray which is in turn replaced by Blu-Ray Holo-Discs, which are replaced by Mini Blu-Ray Holo-Discs, all in the span of 5 miserable consumer years, the terminology need not change.

So a hopeless sci-fi geek will be able to tell someone that he has the latest enhanced, expanded release of the Star Wars movies on media. It’s immaterial whether he bought commercially-released discs, or downloaded the movies and copied them onto a disc of some kind. Everyone will understand that they now exist in his possession on some form of transportable digital media. It’s only if a friend asks to borrow them that they’ll have to get into specifics about whether the friend owns a Mini Blu-Ray Holo-Disc player.

While we’re at it, can we get rid of the term, “digital?” Is anything analog anymore? I didn’t think so.


burton said...

check out this decent article about differences in digital vs analog TV signals. i knew this somewhat, but not well enough to speak about it. this article has the point i wanted to share and then some. there is also a small percentage of the population which believes analog recordings show a higher range in frequencies than digital recordings. personally, i think those frequencies are quite possibly out of our range of hearing anyway. http://www.multichannel.com/blog/1820000182/post/510012651.html

michael said...

I've recently taken to referring to any electronics as "device". So any cell phone, mp3 player, external hard drive etc. I refer to generically as "device" it's just easier that way.