The Devil’s Tech Dictionary

Actionable, a.

A veiled proxy for the speaker’s laziness. Used as in “this isn’t actionable” to mean one or more of:

  • I don’t understand and I don’t want to.
  • This looks like it takes effort and I don’t want to.
  • I don’t like this and I don’t want to.

Cannot Reproduce, n.

A versatile term, often found as a formal state in bug / ticket tracking systems, which can mean various things:

  • I tried vaguely, once, to reproduce this, carefully ignoring any detailed instructions you provided, and I didn’t immediately see a problem.
  • I successfully ignored this for long enough that the reporter gave up (or died of old age) so now I can pretend it magically went away by itself.
  • I couldn’t be bothered even trying to reproduce this, which is a form of “cannot”, right?

Crowdsourcing, n.

The practice of making other people do your work for you without compensation or credit.

See also the observation that none of us are as dumb as all of us are.

Free to play / Freemium, a.

A sales method used when presenting the true cost up front would result in no sales.

Commonly used in some industries outside of tech as well, such as drug dealing.

Full Stack Developer, n.

Someone who programs exclusively in JavaScript and once wrote a query for MySQL.

Gamify, v.

To make a product less enjoyable by inserting unnecessary casino mechanics and condescending interstitial animations.

GPL, n.

A passive-aggressive way of open-sourcing your software without actually making it free (as in freedom).

(also, AGPL, even more so)

Levandowski, n.

A unit of money equal to approximately $80M USD. Used especially in contexts where a purchase has deeply negative actual value. Derives from the hiring bonuses and other promised compensation required to recruit a single Anthony Levandowski.

  • Often used in hiring negotiations to establish compensation expectations, e.g. “I don’t switch companies for less than three Levandowskis.”
  • Can be used to refer cryptically to a huge future cost, e.g. “That’s only one Levandowski now, but also in future.”

MVP (Minimum Viable Product), n.

A trump card in design discussions to unilaterally reject anything that is inconvenient, hard, or from someone other than one’s self. e.g.:

Mohammed: For our banking app, let’s add the ability to generate photos of people with AI.

Mary: We should put some safeguards in place to prevent deepfakes.

Mohammed: Mary, we’re working on the MVP right now, we need to stay focused.

Offline, a.

As in, “let’s talk about that offline”.

May be used with any of several meanings, the ambiguity of which is usually intentional:

  • To shift communication from the real world to the online world, without any apparent sense of irony.
  • To dismiss something with prejudice, under the curious social contract that no one is allowed to call you out on it.
  • To relatively tacitly state that you do not like someone’s input and want them to shut up.

Prototype, n.

Software created by ignoring all the development best practices that are inconvenient, such as unit testing and accepting input from others.

Technical Debt, n.

Liabilities in software design and implementation due to poor choices and unrealistic deadlines, that managers inexplicably believe – in the face of all evidence from every software project ever – is a limitless line of free credit.

UX Designer, n.

Self-selected job title for pretentious UI designers.

Beware of using the term “UI” in front of an afflicted person, as it triggers a compulsory thirty minute monologue on the difference between “UI” and “UX” design, made particularly excruciating by the fact that there is no difference.

Further reading

How to speak Silicon Valley: 53 essential tech-bro terms explained.

The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce (context).

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