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. :-)

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