Redefined by Technology: The words, they are a changing

Below is a very low brow, non expert look at how the technological revolution has changed the definition of words and concepts over the last few years.

Social: When I were a lad, socialising meant going out the local for a few drinks. Now it means something totally different, with the advent of Social Networking. Bow it means sitting on your own, in front of a pc, communicating with people you have never met.

Beta: This actually has two new definitions.
A finished product that you don’t have enough faith in to call a final releases. A great example of this is gmail. When it was released, the beta labelled stuck with it for about five years!

An extended demo of a game. When I was younger, you very rarely saw alphas or betas of games. I remember a leaked alpha of Quake, which really was alpha – barley playable – but everyone had a copy! The first time we got to play games, it was as a demo. One or two levels or a time limited version of the game, that would entice you to buy the full version. When betas first started to cross my path, they were always invite only and were only for people willing to give feedback on the game. It was an extension of the publishers / developers standard quality assurance.
These days more and more games are releasing public beta. People clamour to get a peak at the game, even entering competitions to get beta codes. They have now effectively replaced pre release demos.

Free: Yours at no cost, unless you want to do anything useful with it or want to complete it in your lifetime if it is a game. When I see the word free, to me it should mean that whatever you are being offered – whilst possibly subject to conditions – is yours at no financial cost. These days that is not really the case. Now we have a totally new word for free – “Freemium“. This basically means that on an app store they can use the word Free on the download button. However, as soon as you go in to look at the app you see those dreaded words (in iOS at least) “Top In App Purchases”. What this normally means is, if you want to actually enjoy this game for more than 10 minutes, you will have to pay after all!

Now for my personal favourite.

Unlimited: We all know what that means. No Limits. There is no limit to what you can do with whatever you have bought that is labelled unlimited. Until now. Now unlimited actually means – Unlimited until you reach your limit at which point it will cost you. I do of course refer to the biggest lie in the industry – Unlimited Broadband (land or mobile). The way the industry gets away with this lie? The use of the words “Fair Usage Policy“.

Here is the current rule;

* The term “unlimited” can only be used if the customer incurs no additional charge or suspension of service as a consequence of exceeding a usage threshold associated with a Fair Usage Policy (FUP), a traffic management policy or similar.

* Limitations that do affect the speed or usage of the service must also be moderate only and clearly explained in the advertisement.

So essentially what this is saying, you can’t use the word “unlimited” if there is some kind of limitation, UNLESS, you explain the limits in the small print.

Way to go advertising people. Luckily OFCOM are looking at how to redefine the word unlimited;

“The use of the term unlimited is only permitted where the service in question has no usage caps through a ‘fair usage policy’ or similar.”

That’s sounds a little bit like what you would expect!

So there we have it, a few new definitions made possible by technology. Let me know if you can think of any more, I would love to hear them!!


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2 thoughts on “Redefined by Technology: The words, they are a changing”

  1. Beta: we all need to be careful, @daverage of course. Its all public. Share nothing, go nowhere. Share too much, and there goes your IP…


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