Bridge to Success

TMDA (Too Many Damn Acronyms)

Posted by MHO Networks on Sep 4, 2018 10:34:00 AM

Man talking with alphabet letters coming out of his mouth. Communication, information, intelligence conceptAcronyms are part of our speech in every region, background, and industry. Digital networking is no different. As in any industry with complex technical terms, network acronyms are as plentiful as people with individual names.

The word acronym was coined in 1943 by Bell Laboratories to describe the shortened versions of long terms for new inventions. Some examples are:

  • LASER - Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation
  • SONAR - Sound Navigation and Ranging
  • RADAR - Radio Detection and Ranging

Now we use acronyms for practically everything:

  • NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • WAC - Women’s Army Corps
  • AWOL - Absent Without Leave
  • NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • SCUBA - Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus

We even have conjured up meanings for the word ‘acronym:’

  • Alphabetical Code for Remembering Odd Names You Make up
  • A Coded Rendition Of Names Yielding Meaning
  • A Contrived Reduction Of Nouns, Yielding Mnemonics
  • Another Cryptic Rendition Of Nomenclature You Memorize

Why We Use Acronyms

People began shortening long names and terms for easier use way before we had a word for it. As early as the 1800s, companies shortened their names using the first portion of each word in order to label packaging that was too small to contain the full name. This is how the company name NABISCO was formed (National Biscuit Company).

Crates, boxes, and barrels were stamped with initials so shipping companies would know where to send them. While the full company name generally appeared on formal shipping manifests, the shortened version was used on packaging, until the new short version was eventually adopted as an easier way to write and speak the company name.

Today, we shorten everything in order to make our conversations easier and quicker. Can you imagine life without acronyms? Let’s attempt to tell an imaginary story without shortening any terms.

My best female friend and I decided that a party at the local Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation tag park would a great way to celebrate my birthday. In order to play Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation tag, participants have to be at least 10 years old and have no health problems that would be irritated by the Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation lights. As you probably know, Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation tag is played with guns that emit a Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation that is detected by a vest worn by each user. When a player is hit by the Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation beam, the vest emits a noise to let the player know they’ve been hit…

You get the point. (Did you pick out BFF and LASER?) A conversation like that would be a disaster. Now imagine trying to talk to another person about scuba gear, or radar, without using the acronym, or by eliminating other network acronyms like Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code (BCDIC) or Modulator / Demodulator (MODEM). Total. Nerve Wracking. Chaos.

The Confusion with Acronyms

The confusion arises when we shorten most terminology into network acronyms. Our goal may be easier communication, but confusion sets in when everyone doesn’t understand our new jargon. We end up sounding like we are speaking a secret code to hide our real intentions.

“John, I used a BNT on that UCERT for NASA RADAR but it didn’t emit a single IOTA of BUNGUNK.” I took liberty here to use some wholly imaginary acronyms, but you get the point. Unless everyone has access to the unique “code” you’re using, it sounds like the FBI trying to sneak something past the CIA, all in the interests of the USA.

By the way, sometimes we confuse ourselves by calling some new shortened word form an acronym when it’s really something else. As in the paragraph above FBI, CIA, and USA are all abbreviations we use for well-known terms, but we do not pronounce the shortened version as a word, like we do with scuba or radar.

Familiar terms like these in which we must pronounce each letter are correctly called initialisms. FBI is pronounced, “eff-be-eye” and not “fibeeye.” Other popular initialisms are CBS, NBC, ROTC, HMO, and ACLU. We commonly call these terms acronyms because they are used as such. Like an acronym, they help us shorten longer terms for simpler speech.

Be Careful When Using Network Acronyms

Acronyms are a great tool; but like any other tool, we must exercise care when using them. In the company of your teammates, where everyone speaks the same language of network acronyms, its great to be able to communicate quickly. That’s why we have acronyms.

But, in the company of others who may not be familiar with the depth of acronym knowledge we possess, we may only cause confusion and embarrassment. A person who is embarrassed about their lack of understanding will not likely ask, “What does that acronym mean?” They will persist in ignorance and we will have alienated another person. It’s never acceptable to make another feel inferior.

Let’s be careful of our audience when using network acronyms, and out of consideration of those around us, speak with clarity and courtesy. Our audience should be impressed by our knowledge and respect, not dumbfounded by our arrogance and language.

Popular Network Acronyms

In fact, most of the popular network acronyms are not exactly acronyms, but initialisms. While we understand how using shortened versions of complex terms help us communicate, we must be careful that our audience understands the acronym language we are speaking.

So, in the interests of promoting clarity and understanding across our industry, here are 80 of the most popular network acronyms used today. How many on the list do you know?

  1. ADSL Asymmetric digital subscriber line
    2. AES Advanced Encryption Standard
    3. ANSI American National Standards Institute
    4. API Application Programming Interface
    5. ARP Address Resolution Protocol
    6. ATM Asynchronous Transfer Mode
    7. BGP Border Gateway Protocol
    8. BSS Basic service set (Wi-Fi)
    9. CHAP Challenge-Handshake Authentication Protocol (PPP)
    10. CIDR Classless Inter-Domain Routing
    11. CIR Committed Information Rate
    12. CLI Command line interpreter
    13. CPU Central processing Unit
    14. CRC Cyclical redundancy check
    15. DES Data Encryption Standard
    16. DHCP Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol
    17. DNS Domain Name System
    18. DRAM Dynamic random-access memory
    19. DSL Digital Subscriber Line
    20. DSLAM Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexor
    21. DTE Data Terminal Equipment
    22. DMI Desktop Management Interface
    23. EHA Ethernet Hardware Address
    24. EIGRP Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol
    25. FCC Federal Communications Commission (US)
    26. FCS Frame check sequence (Ethernet)
    27. FDDI Fiber Distributed Data Interface
    28. FTP File Transfer Protocol
    29. GBIC Gigabit interface converter
    30. gbps Gigabit per second
    31. GEPOF Gigabit Ethernet (over) Plastic Optical Fiber
    32. HDLC High-level Data Link Control
    33. HTTP HyperText Transfer Protocol
    34. HTTPS HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure
    35. IANA Internet Assigned Number Authority
    36. ICMP Internet Control Message Protocol
    37. IDF Intermediate distribution frame
    38. IDS Intrusion Detection
    39. IEEE Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers
    40. IMAP Internet Message Access Protocol
    41. IP Internet Protocol
    42. IPS Intrusion prevention system
    43. ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network
    44. ISP Internet service provider
    45. kbps Kilobit per second
    46. LACP Link Aggregation Control Protocol
    47. LAN Local area network
    48. LAPB Link Access Procedure, Balanced (x.25)
    49. LAPF Link-access procedure for frame relay
    50. LLC Logical link control
    51. MAC Media access control
    52. MAN Metropolitan area network
    53. Mbps Megabits per second
    54. MPLS Multiprotocol Label Switching
    55. MTU Maximum Transmission Unit
    56. NAC Network access control
    57. NAT Network Address Translation
    58. NBMA Non-Broadcast Multiple Access
    59. POP3 Post Office Protocol, version 3
    60. POP Point of presence
    61. PPP Point-to-point Protocol
    62. RAM Random Access Memory
    63. ROM Read-Only Memory
    64. SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
    65. SNA Systems Network Architecture (IBM)
    66. SNAP SubNet Access Protocol
    67. SNMP Simple Network Management Protocol
    68. SSID Service set identifier (Wi-Fi)
    69. TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol
    70. TFTP Trivial File Transfer Protocol
    71. UDP User Datagram Protocol
    72. USB Universal Serial Bus
    73. VLAN Virtual local area network
    74. VLSM Variable-length subnet masking
    75. VPN Virtual private network
    76. WAN Wide-area network
    77. WEP Wired Equivalent Privacy
    78. Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi Alliance)
    79. WPA Wi-Fi Protected Access
    80. WWW World Wide Web

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Topics: Internet Services, Internet Connection, Point-to-Point Fixed Wireless, Fixed Wireless