Part of understanding an industry is learning its culture. A direct reflection of that culture is its language. The computer industry and its language have changed dramatically since the mid-1990s. Correctly using words gives you credibility and removes distractions. Words on your website or social media platforms are even more important. As we move into a new year, change how messaging and catch up with the times.
If you are a church communications expert, I hope this article is humorous. You likely stopped using these terms and phrases long ago. Yet, this might be something you print out for a church leader or co-worker. Please know that if someone gave this to you, it was done in love. We want the Gospel to spread without any impediments. The fewer distractions, the clearer Jesus’ message is. So let us examine a few potential pitfalls.
Unless you are trying to be funny, do not use the term “cyber” when discussing the internet. This descriptor never caught on in most technical circles. You may feel left out because you do not have a descriptor for “internet stuff”. Try using “digital” instead.
World Wide Web
Terms like the world wide web went out of fashion not long after it was first used. We all know what “www” stands for. And while I’m talking about that, watch how you say website address. If you include the “https://” or even “www”, you sound dated. Everyone in the modern world understands what the internet is and how website addresses work.
This phrase was first used in 1999 and was the title of a large conference in 2004. In case you missed it, Web 2.0 referred to the new interactive direction of websites and applications. Granted the ability to interact with machines and people existed before this. But larger platforms emerged that promoted this new idea. Websites were no longer multi-page brochures. This era saw the age of blogs and was the catalyst for social media platforms. But again, as soon as the term rose in popularity, it fell out of fashion.
Capitalization of Terms
Electronic mail has had many names over the years. But as far back as 2011, the Associated Press changed their style to use “email”. No hyphens or capitalization is required. Similarly, in 2015, the Associated Press announced another change. The word internet would no longer be capitalized. Before that, the noun usage was capitalized, and the adjective (i.e. internet resource) was not. So get with the times and save yourself an extra pressing of the shift key. You probably do not need to update old internal documents. But, any use on your website should be fixed.
I admit I occasionally use terms like “LOL” when I text. Bot not at work. Keep it professional when you communicate with peers and coworkers. Remove acronyms and spell your words. You are not saving time by typing “u” instead of “you”. You are looking unprofessional. I understand you may want a relaxed culture. Find other ways to accomplish this.
While this is not a technical term, it is often used by the industry. Or I should say, misused. Innovation is not coming up with something new. It shows up when you research a problem, analyze the gaps, and solve a real problem. It may not even mean inventing something new. Disruptive companies like Uber, Google, and Airbnb did not invent their respective markets. Taxis, search engines, and hotels already existed. Those services found ways to improve them. So do not reinvent your church. Find a digital service can solve a problem. Then take the risk and time to solve it.
As our parents might have told us, “watch your language”! The terminology you use is a reflection of how tech-savvy you are. I do not expect church leaders to write production-ready C# code. But they need to speak the language of church communications. In addition, you need to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk”. If you want to impact the culture at your church, do it with more than words. Regardless of your action, start off this new year by fixing any of the above topics.
Photo courtesy of Karl-Erik Bennion