Downturns, language and how the internet will not ‘become obsolete’

Deep breath. It’s a long rant, but a good one.

A downturn in IT spending has been predicted to hit the UK, but you would not know it from the amount of stories that have broken.


It has been a busy couple of weeks here at CW towers. We’ve had Google Docs going offline to take on MS Word, Yahoo rejecting Microsoft’s latest bid/threat and Shell signing the mother of all outsourcing deals.

Meanwhile, the crowds turned out for the Unified Communications show (formerly known as just VoIP for business) which took place in London. The name change suggests suppliers probably think they can sell more kit on the premise of ‘business efficiency’ rather than really cheap calls.

The Data Centre Dynamics conference also brought out the infrastructure managers and highlighted the need for strong capacity planning as business demand for IT rises.

But the biggest story that had the phone ringing for expert comment was the report by the Times about how the internet would be ‘made obsolete’ through the use of advanced grid computing being used at CERN.

Now we all know the difference between the internet and the web – the internet is collection of physical cables that connects computers, whereas the web is a service that runs over the internet.

But somewhere in The Times’ report the distinction was blurred and a wealth of web surfers (232 comments were left after the article was published) were on hand to correct the Science Editor.

Unfortunately, word online spreads like wildfire and I had to start my radio interview with London’s LBC radio, who had followed up The Times’ story, by explaining what the grid actually was without sounding like a pedantic nerd.

No mean feat considering drive time listeners are more worried about how backed up the traffic is on the M11 to West Wickham.

The point though is that taking care of the language we use when talking about IT – how we define and explain concepts – is just as important in business as it is in the media.

It determines and sets expectations of what technology can achieve.

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