View analo­gies for tech­ni­cal terms

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The prob­lem with tech­ni­cal jargon is that it of­ten re­quires fur­ther tech­ni­cal jargon to ex­plain it. A new ex­ten­sion from the Wash­ing­ton Post called Side­ways Dic­tionary ( bit.ly/ side­ways423) solves this dilemma by us­ing analo­gies rather than def­i­ni­tions to tell you what tech­ni­cal terms mean. It au­to­mat­i­cally de­tects such terms on web pages and dis­plays its analo­gies in a side­bar on the right. For ex­am­ple, Bit­tor­rent is “like pho­to­copy­ing a book”, while Open Source is “like bak­ing a cake for a friend, then giv­ing them the recipe”. It’s an in­ter­est­ing idea, although some terms it cov­ers, such as ‘browser’, don’t re­ally need ex­plain­ing.

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