Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Out of touch

Each morning this week, I have had to start the day with a search for the meaning of a word. This morning, it was an acronym in an email message proposing a small group meeting at a conference. "Typical BOF format," the message said. Wikipedia to the rescue:
A BoF session, an informal meet-up at conferences, where the attendees group together based on a shared interest and carry out discussions without any pre-planned agenda.
OK, that makes sense, and I sort of picked up on that meaning from the context. But there were no contextual clues for yesterday's vocabulary word.

This is the central panel from Sunday's Unshelved comic. I had to keep staring at it. What is the verb in that sentence? "It's not a word," an IM buddy said. "It's 'pwns.'" So I googled. OK, a gamer thing, so no wonder I didn't recognize it. It seems unlikely to me that a cataloger (a knitting cataloger) would know and use this word casually, but I suppose that's the joke. Still, I found it disconcerting how far I had to go to get a joke written by and largely for members of my profession.

I'm glad I did, though. The Wikipedia entry on pwn is extremely interesting, especially (for me) the bit about pronunciation. It dredged up old graduate school interests* about how Internet communication is in this weird space between the spoken and written word.

* It floors me that crap I wrote on Usenet 14 years ago is out there to be found so easily.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the subject today. I wondered what that Unshelved "pwns" was about. Now I know!

And BOF, birds of a feather flocking together... great new language IM folks are coming up with.

Learning something new every day.

Unknown said...

Excellent word post! I've linked to you from Wordcraft. Hope you don't mind.

Anonymous said...

soc.motss? That brings back so many memories. The early 90s were a different time... all the hours I spent on rec.arts.bodyarts, IRC and a UNIX rave chat have now been taken up by knitting!

Anonymous said...

It seems that there are quite a few young librarians today (I'm one) and I'm not surprised that the hip cataloguer in the Unshelved strip would know gaming jargon. ;)