It was back in the winter of '88 that I first realized I was coming down with AO (Acronym Overload). And that was even before JPEG and PDF and a thousand others had arrived on the scene.
I was talking to a "civilian" -- someone not connected to the electronics industry -- and describing how my new client was making DRAMs using CMOS technology.
She replied in a dreamy kind of way, "That is sooo beautiful."
"Yes, it conjures up such a poetic image."
"Yes, don't you think so?"
I was thinking about the TSMC silicon foundry in Taiwan. She was hearing "sea moss," which I discovered is a designer color favored by interior decorators.
In the years since then, AO has exploded to pandemic proportions, such that it's now used to intimidate as well as communicate.
We've all seen the humiliation of very accomplished people over 50 -- doctors, lawyers, scholars -- sheepishly asking their children what LOL or LMAO mean.
Of course, it's the prerogative of the young to speak in code so their elders don't understand them, but now AO is a disruptive technology even among peers.
A public relations colleague recently told me he had just acquired a new client in the OPD market, all the while shaking his head vigorously.
Soon my own head was shaking in sync with his. And I realized that involuntary gesture signaled comprehension on my part, thus forfeiting my right to ask what the OPD market was.
So I had to use the default method of detection.
"Who else is in that space?" I asked, hoping that would tell me whether OPD was the next big thing, thus tempting me to steal his new client away. Or was OPD another false start, like water-cooled cellphones.
He volunteered that others in that space included Futztech, Nutztech, and of course, Xyxitek, but only the latter was a pure play.
We agreed to have his people contact my people to set up lunch soon, and went our different ways.
In an effort to facilitate communications in fast-changing environments, AO can also be used in that age-old game of separating the sucker from his money.
I'm reminded of the pseudo-startup conceived by a publicist who put out a news release on the wire announcing the world's first WOM. The announcement of the revolutionary new product generated a lot of follow-up queries not only in the electronics industry, but also among the galaxy of venture capitalists, lawyers, accountants, ad men, investment bankers, and Ferrari salesmen who surround the industry.
There followed several months of buzz before anybody bothered to read what the acronym stood for (write-only memory), or thought through the implications of a memory chip that you could store information to, but never retrieve again. (In the non-digital world, it would be called a paper shredder or a furnace.)
I gotta run, Xyxitek just called and wants me to come in and pitch their account, ASAP. And if I don't get the business, at least I'll find out what the OPD market is.