Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Precious, technology style

Here's a term that you'll occasionally now see in reference to the newer generation of computer form factors: fondleslab. (Or a variant thereupon.) An article in The Register manages to slip the term in more than once:

Although Microsoft has been going on about Tiles since Windows Phone 7 became available two years ago, the launch of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Surface fondleslabs have spurred the Surfcast to take legal action.

And a little later:

Microsoft's Live Tiles sit on a phone (or nowadays a fondletop or desktop) start screen and update with real time information from websites, twitter, photos, email etc.

The Techopedia site has a definition for fondleslab that goes like this:

Fondleslab, often hyphenated as fondle-slab, is a highly idiomatic slang term for a device that holds a powerful attraction for a user or set of users. Here, the word "slab" refers to devices that are often wide and rectangular in form, such as tablet computers.

"Highly idiomatic": ya think? Subsequent discussion on that page notes that many people think that the term is "extremely informal and not appropriate for business use" and that it is used in journalism. Indeed, that's where our examples come from, and indeed, The Register seems to be the most avid user of this term. Urban Dictionary, of course, has a definition (essentially the same as this), which somewhat unexpectedly also includes an entry for the term tablet-widow (echoes of, for example, golf widow.)

The, um, informal nature of the term pertains, of course, to fondle. This is technically a neutral term ("touch or stroke tenderly"), but it's used so often in sexual contexts that it seems to lends a certain impropriety to the term's use elsewhere. Like here: it suggests an unseemly attachment to the device. To my mind, anyway.

I can't imagine any context in which fondleslab would be considered a neutral term, let alone a positive one. For example, I would never consider my own devices to be fondleslabs. No, that's something that other people have. :-)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Doxic fallout

A recent brouhaha about the outing of the notorious troll Violentacrez brought to prominence a term that's been around for a while, but that really got a workout in the last week: doxxing.

Doxxing, sometimes doxing, infinitive to dox, often used passively (to be doxxed), is to publicly identify someone who has an online persona that keeps them otherwise anonymous. In this case, the user "Violentacrez" was doxxed by a reporter for (link here, but is currently unavailable due, I believe, to wrangling between Reddit and Gawker). The incident has set off a huge debate on the Internet that involves overlapping discussions about privacy, free speech, ethical behavior, journalism, and other topics.

But we're not about ethics here, we're about words. Dox definitely has the sense of outing someone. The source is not entirely clear. It's possible that dox comes from docs, i.e., documents, as in, being documented.

If Urban Dictionary is to be believed (ahem), it also refers to intercourse, perhaps not of a variety preferred by one of the participants, with typical metaphoric overtones. (See also: screwed.)

There's this slightly odd sense (from 1998), in reference to a game that's for sale on eBay:

Fully boxxed. Fully doxxed. Just not shrinkwrapped. [#]

This could mean (I cannot verify) that the game is fully documented, as in, it comes with all the bits that accompanied the new product.

Another sense of doxxed appears in discussion about gaming (a world I know nothing about) and seems to be a specialized and unique shortening of "paradoxed," whatever that might mean:

Yes, they were paradox- magnets, but, between maintianing 'secret identities,' not wanting to 'endanger innocents,' and the convenient fact that most of thier targets were horizon realms, they didn't actually get doxxed that badly. [#]

A thread on the site reviews these senses and Dave Wilton in that thread writes "I would suggest the first meaning above blended with the 'documents' sense to give the specific meaning of private information being revealed."

Since I have no actual, you know, facts, I'll echo Wilton's belief that doxxing in the "outing" sense seems like it could plausibly derive from documents. Perhaps someone can look into this a bit further. And then, haha, dox it.