“Techno-babble” is a term used to describe the fantastic way a storyteller can string together technical words and phrases to create a fictional (and usually ridiculous) explanation to provide entertainment (or more likely, to plug plot holes). As a science fiction enthusiast (geek), I enjoy listening to it explain the unexplainable. Whether it was the chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise “re-routing primary power relays to boost warp gain” or CTU’s Chloe O’Brian “opening an IP socket to a secure volume on a node cluster in a server farm,” techno-babble could help you pretend the impossible was possible.
People often use a lot of buzz words and phrases in real life as well, but too often don’t understand what they really mean—creating a real life techno-babble. I thought of this recently when I received an email from a supplier who at one time I used regularly. My contact there wanted to re-connect. The message was a form letter about 1,200 words long and full of industry keywords, covering every possible technology offering in the charted galaxy.
But what it didn’t cover was why I should care. The reason I stopped using this supplier was because every time I attempted to enter into a meaningful discussion to understand how I could solve a problem, my contact could not provide me with any useful answers—I would always be pushed off to some “technical advisor” who was rarely available. It was clear to me that my contact didn’t really understand the technologies they were boasting about in sales pitches. So, I found one at another supplier who did.
My point? Simple—but it’s too often overlooked (or worse) ignored—know your customers’ language before trying to use it. Otherwise they will see right through you and go elsewhere. As Mr. Spock might say, you’d “be responding in gibberish.”
Keep the techno-babble where it belongs, in fantasy (or playful banter). In the meantime, feel free to initiate electronic communication and relay your opinions.