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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reader Question: Future Definitions

Bowie of Young Writers Online was on a role when he was asking questions. Here goes:
Realistically speaking, would we consider a "holo-vid" a television or would we somehow adapt to calling it a "holo-vid"?
Most likely we would call it a hol0-vid, or whatever term was created to describe that new technology. New advances in technology produce new devices that may provide the same services as something before it, but in new and unique ways. Historically speaking, we tend to refer to these new technologies by their new names. We don't call PDAs by anything other than PDA or handheld device, despite it being a miniature computer w/o a keyboard. An iPod is not a Walkman and even a laptop/notebook computer is often referred to as a laptop/notebook computer rather than as a portable computer or just a computer. While we may acknowledge that new technologies are "genetically" linked to older ones, we still take liberties with naming and stick with what is new, going back to old terminology only when we need to explain something in greater detail or for some other purpose. Right now, I'm writing on a laptop or notebook computer, whichever name best suits you.

When the future rolls on through, it will bring with it a lot of new gadgets that will have different names and terminology. Unless those items are quite clearly derivations of something before (i.e. a 2nd generation iPod is still just an iPod, even though it's technically more advanced and more functional than the previous generation), we tend to rename them. Human beings are remarkable at adopting new language. As an example, we can look at slang.

When I was in high school, all those years ago, I remember the word "sick" coming into play (for those that don't know, "sick" is sort of like saying "cool," but in a more "cool" way). Within a couple weeks it was across the entire campus, and by the time I had finished my school year, that word had traveled to my previous home in Washington (across two states) and had been readily adopted. That's the fascinating thing about language. It always changes with us human beings. Always.

The same is true for technology, and as we progress we will see the language change. Ten years ago we didn't have an iPod. Everything was by CD and mp3s were still becoming the dominant form over .wav and other formats. Now? If you don't know what an mp3 is, you're perceived as an idiot who has been living in the jungle, or really old, and if you don't know what an iPod is, well, you'll end up getting some looks until you can explain why. That's the nature of language. Always changing, always adjusting, and always progressing.

What about you, the readers? Do you think we will call holo-vids by what they are, or will we simply refer to them as TVs?


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  1. I don't know, I still listen to albums and watch video's even if they aren't vinyl and tape anymore. I love my technology though.
    I guess people who are growing up now, with technology and life changing so quickly may be better at adapting and dealing with change and adopt new terms quickly. I on the other hand didn't have sky till I bought it for myself and had three CD's when I left for university and an old IBM PS1 to type my essays on, so I am sticking firmly to TV, Video and LP's no matter what anyone else wants to call it. (for anyone in the UK I also still use the names Opal Fruits and Marathon).

  2. Certainly there could be a generational thing involved.