New tech words for the new year

Emerging trends demand special vocabulary to describe -- and mock -- those trends

Every December, pundits predict what everyone will be talking about in the year ahead. But how can we talk about these predictions if we don't have the words?

Here's my list of words for 2013 that we can all use to talk about -- and make fun of -- emerging trends in technology. Some have been around for a while, languishing in obscurity. Others are brand new.

All of them need to come into our daily conversations.

Pay-to-spam. Facebook will soon start testing a new feature that would let Facebook messages and Facebook email skip the spam filter for a dollar. The sender pays, and their message will go straight to the Facebook Messages inbox.

Facebook has a folder nobody checks called the Other folder, a kind of limbo where email is neither deleted as spam nor delivered to the inbox.

(To check your Other folder -- and you should -- click on the Facebook logo while visiting Facebook with a desktop browser, click Messages in the left navigation bar, then click on "Other" on the top left next to "Inbox.")

Messages in the Other folder are mostly from people who are contacting you on Facebook for the first time. Usually these messages are spam. But sometimes they're important.

Which raises the question: Who is more likely to pay a dollar to get past the spam filters -- people you know or spammers?

Of course, if you got to keep the dollar this might be a great feature. But, no. Facebook gets the dollar and you get the spam.

Now that Facebook is taking this concept mainstream, let's all called it what it really is: "pay-to-spam."

Plusify. Every week, Google seems to announce a new Google+ "integration" -- the retrofitting of Google+ social functionality into an otherwise unrelated Google service.

Google added Google+ features into Google Search, Google Images, Gmail, YouTube, Reader and many others.

The process has become so frequent, so common, that it needs its own word: "plusification."

In the past month alone, Google plusified two major properties, including Blogger and the Google Play Store. People who using the blogging platform can now plus-mention Google+ users by placing a plus sign in front of their names. After that, clicking on the name in your blog takes you to that person's Google+ profile. In November, Google also added a "Followers Gadget" so you can display Google+ followers on your Blogger blog.

Google also recently plusified the Google Play Store in order to add accountability to reviews. Now, when you review an app, you'll have to log into Google+. Your review will appear next to your Google+ profile picture, with a link to your profile.

I think 2013 is going to be the year when Google aggressively plusifies everything.

PAWN, for "passive-aggressive wi-fi name." The name you give your home Wi-Fi network can be seen by anyone within range -- the neighbors, for example, even if they can't gain access to the network itself. The name is public, regardless.

The great thing about PAWNs is that nobody can tell which house or apartment owns the Wi-Fi network in question, so it's a semi-anonymous form of public communication.

People are using their Wi-Fi names to complain to neighbors. And some neighbors are using their Wi-Fi names to complain back.

In one case, someone created the Wi-Fi name "Stop Stealing My Paper." That person's neighbor changed the name of his own Wi-Fi network to "FYI I Don't Read It I Just Throw It Away."

Another well-known conversation goes like this: One Wi-Fi network is renamed "You're music is annoying." His neighbor's Wi-Fi name was changed to: "Your grammar is more annoying."

Other PAWNs posted online include: "Stop_Moving_Furniture_At_Night," "QuitStealingMyWireless" and "ShutYourDogUp."

Gangnam Style. This music video by the South Korean musician PSY is called Gangnam Style. It's the first video ever to have been viewed a billion times, a milestone reached just this week.

How did PSY do it? How did some pudgy, formerly obscure Korean-language singer clobber Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and other better-known superstars in music video popularity?

Well, of course it was a funny video with a catchy tune. But the secret sauce was that PSY waived his copyright on the video and gave it away free.

This combination allowed anyone to copy, parody, redistribute and basically do anything they wanted to do with the video, which removed all barriers for it to become a radically viral cultural phenomenon.

Here's the amazing part: PSY made millions from the video, indirectly.

The popularity of Gangnam Style raked in nearly $1 million in YouTube advertising revenue. Plus, PSY made millions of dollars from doing Gangnam Style-related TV commercials and also downloads of the song itself from iTunes.

In all, the Associated Press estimates, PSY has made more than $8 million this year alone.

Trying to make money from content by waiving copyright and giving the content away will become a big trend, now that PSY has shown how lucrative and career-transforming it can be.

And this approach to monetizing content can have one and only one name: Making money "Gangnam Style."

Hangout In Real . Google's popular "Hangouts" feature, which enables up to 10 people to have a video chat at the same time for free, spawned the word "HIRL" last year, which stands for "Hangout In Real Life."

"HIRL" is the Google+ equivalent to the Tweetup (itself a play on "meet-up") where people who know each other from the social network actually get together in person.

Next year I believe "Hangout In Real Life" will spawn another category of spinoff words to denote crazy places for doing online Google+ hangouts -- especially since hangouts are explicitly supported in the social network's mobile apps.

When Sergey Brin unveiled a new generation of Google Glass at the company's developer's conference Google I/O, for example, he pulled a stunt in which base-jumpers parachuted down to the conference center wearing Google Glass devices while doing a Google+ hangout with each other.

Call it a HIRB: Hangout In Real Base-jump.

In September, Australian marine biologists participated in a hangout underwater -- a HIRO, for Hangout In Real Ocean.

The Black Eyed Peas did the world's first HIRC -- Hangout In Real Concert -- live on stage in front of 60,000 people.

The possibilities are endless.

PMS, for "press-release misdirection scam." In November, a press release was posted on the press release distribution site PRWeb saying falsely that Google had acquired Wi-Fi company ICOA for $400 million.

Google and ICOA denied the news, and it turned out that the press release was fabricated by someone hoping to profit from a boost in the ICOA share price.

The reason the scam worked is because anybody can make up a press release and pay to have it distributed. Yet the fact that it's a press release makes it credible enough for established publications, blogs and search engines to treat it like legitimate news.

Faking a press release with false information for ill-gotten gain of any kind -- the press release misdirection scam -- is something the press needs to watch out for. PMS happens.

McAflee. John McAfee is the founder of McAfee Inc., which makes popular antivirus software products. He was recently mixed up in a scandal involving the murder of his neighbor on a sunny island in Belize.

McAfee wasn't charged with the crime, but he fled from authorities anyway, going into hiding, slipping illegally into Guatemala and getting arrested for that transgression.

He later faked two heart attacks in order to buy time for his attorney to appeal his extradition to Belize. The ploy worked, and he was deported back to the U.S.

Here's the best part: While he was on the lam and even while he was in jail, he blogged about it the whole time.

The contradictory impulses to disappear -- keep a low profile -- and also publicly blog about it -- to maintain a high profile -- is so incredible that it needs its own name.

So from now on, to run away and hide from authorities while at the same time blogging about it shall henceforth be referred to as to "McAflee."

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. Contact and learn more about Mike at You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon