by Heidi Waterhouse

Oceans rise, empires fall, and technology is reinvented over and over again. I thought it would be helpful to create a mapping of what we called things in the olden days, and what we’re calling them now.

Description Old and Boring The New Hotness
Independent programs that report the state of something to a controlling program Agents Microservices
Structured language to communicate predictable formats of data from one organization to another EDI XML
Massively powerful computing resources that are too loud to sit next to Mainframes The Cloud
Iteration of all the places a word appears in a document Concordance Index
Syntax that separates text from how it is styled, but is still simple enough for humans to read HTML Markdown(s)
Contextual assistance navigating new or unfamiliar tasks Clippy Walkthrough video
Moving pictures used to convey emotion and a wish to catch the eye of a user Animated gifs Animated gifs
Source of all knowledge about weird error messages, strange undocumented commands, and amazing software power tricks Listserv Stack Overflow
Architectural structure designed to make people aware they were being watched Panopticon Open-plan office
Persistent multi-party messaging platform with multiple topic areas and closed membership BBS Slack

I hope this makes you feel like a part of the giant treadmill of reinvention. Keep a copy of this article to share with the next generation when they tell you about this amazing new way to use one’s pocket-device to talk to people IN REAL TIME.

Heidi is a technical writer, speaker, and parent. Her favorite writing topics are security, new technology, and feminist analysis of romance novels. She only gets paid for two of these.

Listen to an interview with Heidi on our podcast.

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