Tech Terms

As someone who has grown up during the computer revolution, I can look at today’s society and marvel at how computers changed so many things in our lives.

A phrase I repeat in my posts is “I blame Windows,” which refers to the idea that Windows allowed a user to customize lots of different visual and behavior aspects, which then caused the user to expect that sort of custom, tailored experience in the real world, which then possibly contributed to the self-centered nature of younger generations.  Maybe.

But the thing I was thinking about last night was how computers have introduced language that possibly would never have entered into the mainstream otherwise.  I’m not talking about computer-specific terminology, despite my slight fascination of the term “drive” – disk drive, floppy drive, hard drive, usb drive, flash drive, and thumb drive.  I am talking about a couple of terms that possibly existed (I can’t be bothered to take the 10 seconds and check) but were of no concern to people until they got computers.  For example:

Font.  Everyone that uses a computer now knows about fonts and what they are used for.  That’s because everyone that got a computer has become a publisher in some way or another.  Even with something as simple as emails, you could get an admonishment, “Your font is difficult to read/too big/ too small/ the wrong color/not installed on my computer”.

Back in “the old days”, you had a typewriter that had one font – Courier New.  You never had to worry about fonts.  Even people who wanted to care about them and wanted to sound artsy or something would say, “that’s a really nice typestyle on that advertisement”, which would lead a more pretentious artsy person to say, “It’s not a typestyle, it’s a typeface.”  But now everything is a font and everyone knows what that is.

Portrait and Landscape.  I don’t think these terms existed before computers, but I also don’t think they are strictly computer terms.  Maybe they existed in the publishing and photography industries, don’t feel like checking.  The thing I know is that before computers, we used terms like “vertically” and “long-ways” to describe orientation.  What a clever naming convention, too.  Describe portrait orientation to someone.  “It’s like a portrait”  And landscape – “It’s like a picture of a landscape.”  However, it is possible to have a portrait of a landscape taken in portrait orientation, but displayed in landscape.  That is a bit confusing to explain to someone.

Comments are closed.