March 26th, 2008 Systems posted by dmerritts View Comments

IDKs – Musing in Large Companies

In the land of acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations (AIA) one is often lost. This is especially true when you move from one company to another or change industries entirely. The language spoken is highly-developed and simplified. It’s the simplification and natural human laziness (desire for efficiency) that gives birth to the never ending barrage of three-to-six letter meanings. Granted, there are a few industries worse than IT (e.g., government), IT acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations are by far the worst.

One of the three letter initialisms that drove me crazy was MOM — Microsoft Operations Manager. This was particular difficult at the time because I was leading an initiative at EDS to create a unified event management framework developed on the premise of Managers of Managers (MOM) tiered concept. And, of course, MOM 2005 was just released and caused a lot of confusion.

But, MOM was an easier one to deal with when compared with all the integration speak: EAI, ETL, Ant, XML, JMX, SIMILE, ESB, WSDL, JAXB, JSF. The list could go on for days. There are many people who pride themselves in AIA speak, and seemingly even more that are too proud to admit they don’t understand AIA speak. So, the cycle perpetuates to the point where technology focused conference calls or meetings accomplish nothing and confuse more than help.

After a while, the AIA speakers take over and the people who need to do the work are lost. This was always an opportunity for musing with the AIA speakers. I often thought the AIA speaker amongst us never knew what he or she was talking about. When this happened, I would always come up with an AIA that had no meaning at all. IDK was one of the first; it stood for: I Don’t Know. (hattip: Beth McGreevy for coining it). When ever the conversation would devolve, we’d throw in a IDK here and there. Since IDK has a lot of other meanings in the IT world, I rarely was stopped even though it was non-sensical.

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