Steven Gradidge. Hi :)

The Changing Semantics Of The Web

Posted on: February 27, 2011

Technology and probably most emphatically the Internet has revolutionised our lives (understatement of the century?!), most of which has already been documented. What I find really interesting though is the ever increasing change of semantics and the borrowing from offline to online.

One thing the Internet hasn’t done is created words, which has meant words have had to be borrowed or re-invented. What one word means today could have a completely different meaning to what it had 20 years ago. A generation gap being divided and segregated not only by technology use and consumption but actually language!

Here is a challenge for you. Look at the words below and for any of you with a luddite friend or family member, ask them what their understanding of the word is and compare it to your modern understanding. Cruel? Maybe, but academically interesting nonetheless 🙂

Safari:

Once upon a time, safari once referred to a highly sought after tourist excursion where you get to see the wildlife of Africa. But now for many, Safari is a browser of choice on devices such as the iPod, iPhone and the iPad.

Opera:

Another browser related word. The Norwegian telecom company Telenor decided that they were going to name their browser Opera, the same as the art form in which singers and musicians perform on stage. I’ve never understood this one.

Office:

Office on the other hand is an easy marketing concept to fathom. Microsoft wanted to and arguably has taken ownership of the workplace. Quite often a 9-5 foe, but where would we be without it?! The iconic flagship software package is available in over 35 languages and is believed to be used in 80% of global enterprises.

Windows:

Another shrewd pinching of the ‘office’ space, Microsoft Windows has become a ubiquitous tool in the workplace. Likewise, windows are also transparent glass openings we often stare out of…

Mouse:

An office is never complete without a (computer) mouse, but more so with the exclusion of the little rodent variety.

Bookmark:

Once a handy and convenient tool for saving the last read page in your book (remember those?), nowadays bookmarks relate web page shortcuts. Bookmarks are truly heaven sent!

Mac:

Often a form of waterproof clothing associated with geeks, nerds, trainspotters and the like, but nowadays Mac more commonly refers to the Apple computer creation. If truth be known, Mac is shorthand for McIntosh, a particular variety of Apple commonly found in Eastern Canada 🙂

Apple:

While we are on the ‘Apple’ bandwagon (baboom tsssh), Apple is more consumer brand/fanboy hobby now than delicious fruit type.

Tablet:

Got a headache? Grab a tablet. Need a portable computing device? Grab a tablet.

There are lots out there, comment below please!

Steve
@StevenGradidge 🙂

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