As the old joke goes, when is a door not a door? Puns aside, technology continues to evolve at a pace so rapid that it’s difficult for language, which moves slower, to keep up. We still “dial” a phone, despite phones not having rotary dials for decades.

For a more recent example, we turn to the “Kids React” video series. These are always great fun, and a superb tool for making oneself feel really, really old. In the video below, young kids are incredulous at the limitations of the original iPod, which to many of us doesn’t seem all that ancient (it came out in 2001).

Interesting here is how the kids use the word, “phone”. As John Gruber points out, “phone” no longer means, “a device for transmitting voice.”

…the word phone — just plain un-prefixed, unmodified “phone” — is evolving to mean “a pocket-sized touch screen computer with a cellular network connection”. And for these kids, phone really just means “pocket-sized computer”, because they just presume the use of a touch screen and wireless networking.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He serves on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.

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