Brits baffled by geek speak

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Brits baffled by geek speak

We embrace technology but have no idea what the jargon means.

Britons who have embraced the online and digital world still struggle to keep up with the blazing rate of change in information technology, according to the latest research from Nielsen//NetRatings. 

The MegaPanel UK Digital Consumer Survey for September 2006 reveals that, while many are actually using news feeds, 69 percent have never heard the term RSS (Really Simple Syndication) the generic name for the technology behind news feeds.

VoD (video on demand) rings no bells with 75 percent, wikis are meaningless to 70 percent, and IPTV draws a blank with 69 percent.

"There is a significant tendency for the industry to over-estimate consumers' knowledge and understanding of the seemingly limitless new terms and products out there," said Alex Burmaster, European internet analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings.

Other terms to go way over the head of the majority of online users are VoIP (voice over IP), IM (instant messaging) and Web 2.0 (the second generation of internet-based services).

Even Apple's near ubiquitous iPod continues to mystify a sizeable minority: one in seven have heard of the iPod but do not know what it is.

Furthermore, although 42 percent know what podcasting is, a third have heard of it but don't know what it is, and almost a quarter have never heard of it at all.

Acronyms are a big bugbear for most. While 29 per cent understand the term 'IM', 86 percent understand 'instant messaging'. The term DVR is understood by only 48 percent, although 94 percent understand the term 'digital video recorder'.

Access to the internet is becoming more pervasive with many different devices now being used; 38 percent said they access the Web at least once a week through mobile phones, and 29 percent through a TV.

"The average Briton online uses at least two different devices every week to access the Web and no longer needs to be tied to their computer to surf their favourite sites," said Burmaster.

"In addition to the PC or laptop, this surfing is most likely to be done through their mobile phone or television."
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