“Technical jargon can be confusing!” says technology retailer, via marketing scientists

Have you ever noticed how tricky it can be when people use complicated technical jargon? The Daily Mail has:

It’s all geek to me! Even a foreign language is easier to learn than tech talk (but women are better than men at deciphering jargon)

The pangs of anxiety when trying to learn Latin or Greek will be familiar to many from their school days.

But compared to comprehending the latest tech jargon – or technobabble – most adults find understanding foreign languages a relative doddle.

With the advent of the digital age and increased reliance on computers, the use of tech terminology has become commonplace, to the bafflement of many.

Researchers found phrases such as ‘reboot’ [restart digital device], ‘megabyte’ [unit of digital memory] and ‘ISP’ [internet service provider] were much more confusing than words such as ‘boulangerie’ [bakery in French], ‘kalinichta’ [goodnight in Greek] and ‘ostrovia’ [cheers in Russian].

Source: Daily Mail, 23 January 2013

Technical terminology, then, can be opaque and confusing… but, of course, this isn’t just a piece of generic commonsensical knowledge, but an angle pitched to get a company into the press. In this instance, specifically:

Following the research, commissioned by Geek Squad, the technology support partner of Carphone Warehouse, the 10 most confusing technobabble terms will no longer be used.

So, a company which prides itself on translating technical jargon, says technical jargon can be confusing. In fact, let’s hear it in their own words:

Geek Squad member Chris Tufts said: ‘The tech industry is constantly innovating so there will always be some new terminology for consumers to get to grips with. 

‘It can be a real barrier, and prevents some consumers from getting the most out of their gadgets.

‘At Geek Squad, we effectively become tech translators. It’s great when you see customers have that light bulb moment and suddenly they understand a part of the product spec that’s mystified them for years.’

So far, so neat. The only thing left to do is take a look at where the research was carried out:

In a study involving 16 participants, scientists from Mindlab monitored their reaction to different phrases by measuring sweat levels and the brain’s electrical activity.

When challenged with tech terminology, the results showed participants experienced greater confusion and stress than when confronted with a foreign language.

Neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis said: ‘Trying to understand a language you are not familiar with can be extremely frustrating for anyone. 

Superficially, this seems like good solid research – conducted by a neuropsychologist, using reasonable methodology, as part of ‘Mindlab’. At the surface, it seems legit – however, on closer inspection, Mindlab is just another marketing company, whose gimmick is to use the word Neuro now and then, given that they’re run by people with science backgrounds.

In fact, we’ve seen David Lewis before – he was the chap who came up with the formula for the perfect beer, and regularly appears in the news as a science voice for hire.

How would I describe the reliability of this article, then? Well, to use a technical term… it’s bollocks.