TLA … why, why, why?

If you are in IT you have surely stumbled over TLAs, in a number of environments such as OS, DEV, QA, UC, working with people such as PMs or POs, on WIMP based solutions, etc.

Blue And White Robot Robot Lying Face Down On The Floor, Symbolizing Giving Up, Low Batteries, Exhaustion Or Failure Clipart Illustration … AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAArrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr … how many times have you read text such as the above, or sat in a meeting dumbstruck and wondering what the humanoids around you are talking about?  The use of TLAs … two/three lettered acronyms is driving me, for one, to the edge of insanity at times and I am contemplating creating an acronym pocket guide, especially since I am now sitting within a technology company that embraces even more acronyms that any environment I have been exposed to before.

Group Of Grey People Holding A Meeting Around a Large Rectangular Conference Table In An Office Clipart Illustration ImageWould it not be easier to state: “If you are in Information Technology you have surely stumbled over Two/Three Lettered Acronyms, in a number of environments such as operating systems, development, quality assurance, unified communications, working with people such as project managers or product owners, on windows, icon, menu and pointing device based solutions, etc.” … then again etc. would need some attention as well.

To make it worse, have you ever sat in a workshop that includes stakeholders from areas such as management, business, development or advertising? The stakeholders will literally start talking and using the same acronyms that mean different things, based on the environment it is applicable to, and often not realize that half the audience has either imploded or is simply misunderstanding the conversation.

… not to mention some of the text messages I receive and take hours to decipher, i.e. “:O CU L8TR TTTY >:-(” … in case you enjoy unraveling the mess do not read on, else note that one of the many explanations of the message could be “I am shocked, see you later to talk to you … I am very angry”. Really I am not 🙂 and am feeling 😡 at this stage … ( 🙂 –> happy, 😡 –> sick ).

funny-acronym-signI really like the following image I found at which highlights that the use of acronyms is not just frustrating, but can also be dangerous or counter productive in this classical case: 

We should become TLA rebels and try your utmost to:

  • Avoid using acronyms altogether
  • When using acronyms, make sure there is an acronym lookup table … for the likes of me

… otherwise we can always just ignore the acronym nightmare phenomena and try figure out our television remote controls, which as all other devices are as clear and logical as TLAs!

Although this chatter post originated from my frustration with acronyms in general, it originated somewhere in the dark space of my gray matter while reading the book “Interaction Design”, by Sharp, Rogers and Preece, which elaborates on the challenges and pitfalls of designing interactive products that interact and communicate with a variety of end-users.

Comments (4)

  1. VSTSGraham says:

    A web site has been setup to address this issue – very young and sparse at present but could be a very good place to decipher and share those TLAs.

  2. VSTSGraham says:

    Sorry, newbie alert. Website is

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