This idea is inspired by brother, Mikey. He's a military man. Communication in his industry is replete with jargon and acronyms. Observe the acronym decompression sequence for the PAC-3 missile:

PATRIOT Advanced Capability 3
(Phased Array Tracking RADAR Intercept on Target) Advanced Capability 3
(Phased Array Tracking (RAdio Detection And Ranging) Intercept on Target) Advanced Capability 3

Sure, it's easier to say PAC-3, but if both parties engaged in communication don't know the full expansion of the acronym, meaning is lost. Antonym homonyms are another potential source for miscommunication. Does "IRA" mean Irish Republican Army, or Individual Retirement Account? Contextual cues are usually enough, but not always. ATM Machine? PIN Number? People wouldn't be so sloppy and redundant if they thought about what those acronyms really mean.

What can we do about this potential for confusion and lost meaning? How can we safeguard true understanding and prevent incomplete transfer of information? No-Acronym Thursday.

One day per week, let's abolish the use of acronyms. IMAP becomes Internet Message Access Protocol, NAT becomes Network Address Translation, LASER becomes Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. If we care enough about these ideas to canonize them into our language, let's give them one day per week when they can be expressed in their full glory. One day per week, let's allow these memes to spread their wings.

No Acronym Thursday is now company policy at Feedwire. We welcome participants in this movement at other Information Technology firms and in other industries. Healthcare, finance, sports, education, you're all just as guilty as we are.

No Acronym Thursday Rules

  1. For the entire day of Thursday, every week, every participant in your organization will eliminate acronyms from human-to-human communication, regardless of medium or mode of communication. This applies to both spoken and written communication.

  2. Every infraction requires a $0.25 donation to your organization's No-Acronym Thursday pool. This can be used to finance any group activity - a bar tab, cupcakes, bowling, etc.

  3. If you're up for it, try to record infractions per participant per Thursday and generate a graph over time. Post the graph in a public space. This isn't required, but will be fun.

  4. Exceptions are allowed when a machine is the final recipient of the message, i.e. typing "http://..." into a browser, or saying "H-T-T-P colon slash slash" over the phone to someone typing into a browser.

  5. Exceptions are allowed in life-or-death cases. Hospitals, airports, police, military, etc. have established communication protocols that include the use of acronyms. We don't want to disrupt communication when lives are at stake.

Spread the word about spreading out words. #NoAcronymThursday

1 Comment