Kathleen Meaney | Essays


New media begets new behaviors. Technology transforms how we perform and think. As my brain turns into a CPU, a mental search history reveals my most recent queries: How many passwords can the human brain remember in a lifetime? Will there ever again be a moment of uninterrupted work? Aren’t all LOLs silent? Why did the research that refuted multi-tasking take so long to emerge? Were researchers multi-tasking? If a selfie continually captures my double chin, will I become selfie-conscious? 

These are the terms and conditions of our digital days.

Academia is media-driven. The classroom is connected. Donald Norman asks, “How have we increased memory, thought, and reasoning? By the invention of external aids: It is things that make us smart.” [1] Laptops are long-term learning devices; mobiles are short-term memory aids. Yet, nomenclature hasn’t caught up with our response to these digital situations. Whether or not our undertakings are productive, counter-productive, or comical, it’s difficult to address them without a shared language. What is the vernacular of our everyday tasks?

The following is a dynamic dictionary. Feel free to add to the list with your own experiences in the comments!


Laptop use during a meeting to give the impression of productivity (though really checking email): Frauductivity 

A chorus of vibrating phones during a committee meeting—seemingly having their own conversation: Sub(woffer) Committee

The inability to think of a password that’s eight characters long, contains capitals, numbers and symbols, isn’t a recognizable word, and hasn’t been used before: D1P*Sh1t

Forgetting that password upon login: Impasse Word

Dropping your phone and automatically thinking “command z”: Keyboard Shortcircuit

The frequent interruption of software updates without enough incentive to stop what you’re doing: BURP (Bothersome Update without Real Purpose)

An obsession with red dots (a.k.a. badge app icon): Attention Definite Disorder

Another name for an email signature that lists too many titles, degrees, or awards: Boast Script

An email comprised of ten percent communication and ninety percent repeated email signatures: None-the-less-is-more

The new term for “privacy” where public access of private information is obtainable regardless of password protection or secure servers: Privicly

An acronym uttered by professors to help students disengage from their laptops and pay attention to the presentation at hand: LURN (Listen Up Right Now)

An instructor making a classroom declaration prohibiting phone use, especially during a critique, when the professor’s phone rings: Hypocrit-ique 

The sad decline of salutations on campus sidewalks due to students tuning out with iPhones: iRequited love or Hell-no World

Receiving a text from work after hours (or on weekends) prompting a necessary response: Leisure Seizure

Not being proud of your accomplishments at the end of the day because most of your time was spent responding to emails, texting, or browsing: Gainfully Devoid


1. Donald A. Norman, Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1993).

Comments [3]

KT, this is great! Too punny for words! Here are some additions: “GO”ne Time When you need to finish a project ASAP, but you ran out of time! UX = YOU-X (not ME-X) Focusing on the “them” and not the “me” when it comes to a user’s experience. CollaBOREation When students “hate” working in teams—despite how incredible they really are! A+tend Show up and get the grade—participation is so important! Just My ‘Type’ The balance of which two typefaces work well together is like any relationship. Crit-eek! When you’re still a little sensitive to criticism. Dev-HELP-er The saints we pass our digital ideas off to, and they code them for us. “I can DEW this!" When one resorts to the aid of Mountain Dew as an energy boost. Coffee Life Source. Coffee Sizes: (Sm.) Weakling; (Med.) Normal; (Lg.) Designer; (Decaf) Are you joking? Columbian Cartel Coffee Baristas Comic(al) Sans Need I say more? Tab(let) Me Try! That moment when you whip out your tablet, and suddenly someone NEEDS to test it out. Caf(feind) One who is addicted to caffeine.
Morgan Prenger

You're on a roll Morgan! Thank you for these.
KT Meaney

Will language eventually become an obsolete system used only in a ceremonial capacity? Or will it become integrated into a whole new system of communication? (Pictoral language? will devices/interfaces speak for us?) Converfacing; simultaneously interacting with a digital interface and a human being. Battery Pack; group of people all working on digital devices (that have batteries). selfiti; inordinate amounts of selifies posted in unwanted places. google dive; a period of intensive research based on google searches.
John Kazior

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