OK.. this has nothing to do with SQL, and for that I apologise.  But it does have some relevance to usable design and application development:

Watch the video and hurry on back….


OK.. so it’s a road safety message for children enjoying the 1970’s in the UK.  I can remember this one, scarily enough. 

You can imagine the scene.  Some hard pressed TV producer is tasked to save the growing number of kids caught up in road traffic accidents with a quick public information film.  Hard hitting, to the point and memorable.  What better way to achieve this than a handy mnemonic…

So let’s just spell out SPLINK:

S for Stop
P for Pavement
L for Look (and listen)
I for If (traffic appears)
N for no (don’t run into that car)
K for keep (looking for traffic as you cross)

Seriously.. this is what it stands for…

You can just imagine the kids stood beside the roadside.  S for Stop… ok.. I got that.. P… Pavement, yup, I’m already here… that’s why I stopped… L… what did that stand for?  What is I… I forget…  N for.. um… er… Nothing coming… k for er…  kiss the other side…

Cue tragic accident……

For me, the very appearance of an acronym is often enough to send me into a fit of despair.  What better way to encrypt a system than to give it a “need to learn” acronym?  SQL, ADO, RAID, ASP, PSP, PHP, DMZ, P2P, RAM, ICQ, ASL, IEEE, DNS, TLA, ISO, FPU, PNG, NPC, TCL, JSP, GNU, BSD, UDP, JEN, MPL, ESR, RMS, FTP, ETF, JFK, AWK ETC.

OK…. I can sense that many of you already know what they mean… but that’s not the point.  It’s gone too far.

It’s almost impossible to read a technical document/article/recipe/llama/publication without having to learn a new acronym.

Does this enhance learnability?  Does your user have the capacity to learn another acronym?  Might they forget it instantly or forever need to divert their attention from your application/document back to their memory to recall this new timesaver?

There has to be a better way…

I bloomin’ hate acronyms…


Auntie Mavis