Jeering at Jargon

April 11, 2008 at 8:55 am Leave a comment

The IT industry is afflicted with a brain eating virus for which there is no known cure. The medical term for this highly contagious disease is Argotism. The incubation period of the disease ranges from one to eight hours, at which time the subject becomes highly, and permanently, contagious.

The primary symptom of this incurable malady is the ability to speak for hours at a time without uttering a single comprehensible sentence. A secondary symptom is the uncontrollable desire to display incredibly complex visuals using the most sophisticated technology available.

At first it was thought these visual manifestations of the disease, were failed attempts by the patient to overcome the impaired ability to speak plain English. However, extensive content analysis of more than 10,000 visuals has uncovered no evidence to support this hypothesis.

While medical experts admit to similarities between Argotism and certain aspects of Tourette syndrome – in particular the uttering of coprolalia – they have, as yet, found no biological connection between these two conditions.

Scientists are baffled by the contagion vector. The primary methods of disease contagion are typically inhalation, ingestion and physical contact. Argotism ignores these vectors and is instead, spread through the auditory and visual systems. The World Health Organization (WHO) headquartered in Atlanta, GA admits that this method of infection will lead to a global pandemic unless a cure, or at least a vaccine, is found.

Early onset of the disease is identified by a subject’s inability to raise a hand above their head and voice the words “I don’t understand what you’re talking about. Could you please explain it to me?”

In the advanced stage of the disease, subjects repeat the phrases which first infected them, but which they still don’t clearly understand.

(In the interests of not spreading the disease further, this author does not wish to represent any of the “active” phrases in this article. Luckily there is one phrase which has lost most of its ability to infect, which will serve as an example of the virus. Please read it carefully and if you sense the urge to use it in conversation in the next 24 hours, please report immediately to your nearest medical facility. The phrase is “Web 2.0”.)

While it is possible to become infected after a single exposure to Argotism, it usually takes repeated exposure before the subject demonstrates full blown Argotism and becomes a carrier.

A recent WHO study found that being in the presence of a superior when first exposed to Argotism, greatly increased the risk of infection. This increase in the risk factor is assumed, though not yet verified, to stem from our natural reluctance to admit ignorance to management.

While there is no known cure for the disease, there is evidence to suggest that those already infected with Curmudgeonism, or those equipped with a technological advance known as a “BS Detector” (origin unknown), are highly resistant to all known strains of the Argot virus.

An additional finding which has researchers puzzled, is that all the inhabitants of, and everyone from, the state of Missouri are immune to the disease. While stumped by this finding, researchers do believe this anomaly could eventually lead to a cure for Argotism. The researchers are currently herding thousands of Missourians into medical facilities for extensive testing.

Citizens are warned the most likely places to contract Argotism are technology conferences. The most virulent strains of this disease are usually found in the keynote presentations. Members are urged, if they must attend these breeding grounds of pestilence, to bring blindfolds and earplugs to reduce the chance of infection.

There is another home remedy proving useful in isolated cases. Prepare a small tape recorder loaded with the sentence, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you just said. Could you explain what you meant by that?” When a presentation drops into incomprehensibility, you know the presenter is falling into an acute attack of Argotism and is entering their most contagious stage.  Before you lose consciousness, press the PLAY button on the recorder and hopefully this will jolt the presenter back into a temporary state of comprehensibility, perhaps long enough for you to escape into the hall.

© 2009, Peter de Jager – Peter is an inoculated Keynote speaker and Management consultant, contact him at – This article first appeared in Computer World Canada 2003. Sadly – as of this posting, no progress has been made in the search for a cure. We are beginning to lose all hope.


Entry filed under: Communicating, Communications, creativity, Leaders, Leadership, Management, Managing, People Sklls, Problem Solving, Speaking, Technology.

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