Verity Stob

Stuck in a dull conference? You need Verity's survival guide

Getting your own back on technical seminar speakers

Pattern: Fizz-Buzz

Motivation: Speaker needs to add credibility to whatever programming technique he is pushing

Intent: The key has a strong awareness of which words and phrases are currently fashionable.

Implementation: This brief extract from a recent talk demonstrates the point:

Talk giver, hitting a climax: you see, you can use this approach to inject a functional approach into an existing framework.

Delegate, raising arm: Isn't that very object-oriented?

Talk giver, hastily: Oh, no. It's not object-oriented. It's not object-oriented at all. It's very fluent and lightweight.

Delegate subsides, satisfied and impressed.

Examples: Long ago, the writer heard Bjarne Stroustrup himself complain that "object-oriented" had become a marketing synonym for "good". Many clichés have coursed through the culvert since then, and now it has become a coded term for "old-fashioned" - which is pretty much the same as "bad", to one decimal place.

It is not enough, then, for a speaker to speak in buzzing-words and fizzing-phrases. The key is to be aware of how much of their credibility remains to be spent, and to avoid worn-out terms loaded with non-technical debt.

Here is a small kut-out-'n'-keep table of examples, current as of writing, to get you started:

Buzziness of Buzzwords, May 2012
Jargon Credibility
(1.0 best, -1.0 worst)
agile -0.17
design by contract -0.82
data-driven -0.76
fluent 0.97
functional 0.95
injection 0.65
inside-out/outside-in 0.32
lightweight 0.57
native 0.81
object-oriented -0.84
pattern -0.13
performant -0.21
pushback 0.77
technical debt
top-down/bottom-up -0.72
unit test (as noun)
unit test (as verb)

Observation: What's that Sooty? This whole article depends on the jargon word "pattern", and you have shown it to be a spent force?

Aaargh, you got me. ®

Sponsored: Best practices for writing a successful NSF MRI grant proposal