a-z tech jargon

The real meaning of… Jabber

Of all the Js in the IT industry (such as Java, Jail breaking and Jive) there is one that proves the perfect allegory for our current state: Job Control Language (JCL).

JCL is the language we use to try to get the middle-men of the machine world (the operating systems such as MVS, OS/390 and VSE) to manage a project with the workforce, which in this case is the IBM S/390 mainframe computer. They do it fairly accurately and efficiently too. If there are any cock ups, it’s usually because we humans failed to define our terms properly. We could learn a lot from machines. They are far more accurate at describing things in terms that both parties can understand.

Imagine if they were like us and Job Language A had been promoted above its level of competence because it said all the right things in meetings. But it soon realised that it didn’t really understand what it was talking about. How would it instruct Operating system B what to do? It would use a smokescreen of fanciful sounding terms that mean everything and ultimately nothing. Pure jabber.

Meanwhile, the Operating System, MVS, might be equally clueless. In truth, it only really drifted into mainframe computing because that’s where all the money is. Unable to grasp the technicalities, it would welcome the fake gravitas of the professional jargon and choose to pass it on without questioning any of it. When the instructions are relayed to the IBM S/390, it would be in no position to make a fuss, because let’s face it mainframes are not very fashionable. So the poor Big Iron would have to improvise, by second guessing whatever it was the buffoons higher up the hierarchy were actually trying to achieve.

When it goes wrong, of course, the mainframe will get the blame. But the real fault lies elsewhere with the ‘middlemen’ in the hierarchy, which in this case is the operating systems. Typical! If only companies were bolder, they could do away with this layer of management and start being more ‘bare metal’. It worked in the virtual world, when hypervisors were given the boot. Let’s boot out all the marketing professionals. And the people who write software licensing agreements. All time wasters.


Also read:

The real meaning of… ‘As A Service’

The real meaning of… Bitcoin

The real meaning of… ChatBots

The real meaning of Disruptive Technology

The real meaning of… the e-prefix

The real meaning of… Futurology

The real meaning of…3G and 4G

The real meaning of… Hard-wired

The real meaning of... Information Age - interruptive technology


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Nick Booth

Nick Booth worked in IT in the UK’s National Health Service, financial services and The Met Police, witnessing at first hand the disruptive effects of new technology. As a journalist and analyst, his mission is to stop history repeating itself.

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