Napster is a peer-to-peer? The tech sector is drowning in an alphabet soup of meaningless acronyms.
Topics: Entertainment News
Attention Napster fans: Are you aware that when you trade songs on computers you’re engaged in the hottest new business model to pique venture capitalists’ interest? Yep, according to the Wall Street Journal, the “latest tech fad” turned buzzword is P-to-P, or peer-to-peer. You know, your computer talks to my computer and we share information without going through a middleman server anywhere. OK, we dumped the middleman, but God, don’t let us lose anything else: You wouldn’t want to be a participant in this “hot space” and be referred to as “just another PP.”
We could have predicted that the tech sector would reduce a hip music lover’s service to vaporous jargon. First there was B-to-C (business-to-consumer), although no one really started calling those companies anything more complicated than e-commerce sites or “e-tailers” until the big B-to-B craze kicked in. (That’s business-to-business.) Then the abbreviation mania accelerated, driving business plan scribes to reduce their company descriptions to single-letter catch phrases that defy comprehension. “My B-to-B is gonna eat your P-to-P!”
But is there anything really novel about a B-to-B-to-C, except for the alphabet soup? Can a company really foster better communication with its employees if they call the software they use to do it a B-to-E, (where “E” is for employees)? P-to-P is a particularly comical new coinage for a business model since the phrase starkly points out that there’s no middleman — so how can anyone possibly make any money?
But in the off chance that this super-succinct method of communicating turns out to be more efficient, we really should be working on a glossary. Imagine the alphabet books for toddlers of the future. From here on out A is no longer for apple. It’s A is for advertiser. B is for business, obviously. C is for consumer. D is for developer — or maybe dummies. E is for employee. F is for Fortune 500. G is for garage start-up … M is for monetized eyeballs … Z is for zero-sum game.
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Katharine Mieszkowski is a Bay Area journalist, who covers science and
the environment. A Salon senior writer from 2000 to 2009, she
chronicled the dot-com boom and bust as a technology correspondent and co-founded the Broadsheet blog.
Her Salon stories have been anthologized in "Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity,"
A Yale grad, Katharine has also written for the New York Times, Mother Jones, MS, Rolling Stone, Glamour and Reader's Digest, while her commentaries have appeared on National Public Radio's "All Things
Considered." In 1994, she joined her first Internet start-up, Women.com, then known as Women's Wire. Since then, she's also been a writer for Fast Company magazine covering Silicon Valley and a columnist for the San Francisco Bay Guardian investigating local subcultures. In 2001, she was named one of the Top 25 Women on the Web by San Francisco Women on the Web.
Katharine, who grew up near Houston, now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter. You can sign up for Twitter updates from her here.