Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Jargon 2020 of the Future Don't get left behind! You'll need this handy glossary to impress your colleagues in the office of tomorrow.
By Cory Doctorow

(Business 2.0) – DARK CASTLE An automated shipping and distribution complex staffed only by robotic gantries and forklifts. So named because of the dim lighting used in such facilities to improve energy efficiency.

HAUNTED BY YOUR PAST The tendency of retail purchase-preference systems to latch on to anomalous buys--like anti-lice shampoo or a tube of cookie dough--with terrier-like tenacity, such that a one-time purchase becomes the basis for many future recommendations. "I cured that poison ivy rash years ago, but I'm still haunted by my past. The shopping carts at Walgreen's always try to steer me toward the skin-regeneration cream!"

IMPERFECTIONISTS Customizers at small distribution centers who add quirky human touches to mass-produced items. "The imperfectionists in Juarez have been adding dalmatian spots to Dell-Packard's home-network appliances, and they're now outselling other models 2 to 1."

INSOURCING Management-consultant-speak for the practice of hiring employees' aging parents and bored spouses to provide nurturing, "home-style" services within an office complex. At an insourced company cafeteria, for example, a small team of "den mothers" may be on hand to bake cookies, encourage exercise, or offer a shoulder to cry on during stormy office romances.

JOINING THE MILE-HIGH CLUB Office-bonding humor. Refers to the first time a senior-level employee is authorized to reserve an in-flight conference room aboard an Airbus A380 aircraft. A symbol of status, like receiving a key to the executive washroom.

LABORHOOD A cluster of boutique professional-services shops arrayed around a larger anchor company. Each firm in the cluster provides one highly specialized service, such as maintaining a piece of equipment or providing ergonomic consulting. "Business must be booming at StemCo! I drove past their bio-fab last week, and the laborhood stretched for miles."

PREFERENCE FAIRY The notional entity responsible for configuring environments--such as office cubes, hotel rooms, or conference facilities--according to preferences stored on a personal identity card. "The preference fairy at this place is amazing; it even managed to get me my dish of brown-only M&Ms!"

SIEVE Corporate slang for a behavioral analyst who specializes in finding patterns in consumer-usage data compiled by RFID-equipped products. "During in-store demos, the try/buy ratio for our Mark II video goggles is just 10 percent. Give the data to the sieve and ask her to figure out why. If we can triple the conversion rate, they'll become our best sellers."

STEPMOM-AND-POP Derisive term used by teenagers to describe faux rustic stores that are designed to look like traditional mom-and-pop merchants but are actually owned by sprawling retail conglomerates.

TINFOIL BEANIE Used by corporate data marketers to describe privacy-obsessed consumers who install jamming technology in their homes to disrupt the signals emitted by RFID tags. "The usage reports from Brattleboro, Vt., are incomplete because there are so many tinfoil beanies living up there."