TECHNOLOGY

Yikes: Many Americans Think HTML Is an STD

A recent survey offers food for thought for the next time you're filling a job: a surprising number of people are woefully ignorant of common technology terms.
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Technology is the basis of a huge part of the economy, intrinsic to running a modern business, mandatory to communicate with the rest of the world, and necessary to performing a job. Ever wonder how much your job applicants really understand about technology?

Better brace yourself, because the answer is depressing. Coupons website Vouchercloud surveyed 2,392 Americans age 18 and up to see how much they knew of some basic tech terminology. Remember, these are the people who might show up on your doorstep one day to apply for a job:

  • Eleven percent thought that HTML was a sexually transmitted disease, not code used to write websites
  • More than three-quarters (77 percent) didn't know what SEO (search engine optimization) means
  • Blu-Ray was a marine animal to 18 percent of those surveyed
  • More than a quarter of them (27 percent) identified a gigabyte as a South American insect
  • Fifteen percent thought software was comfortable clothing
  • A motherboard was the deck of a cruise ship to 42 percent of people
  • Twelve percent identified USB as a European Country. Like the EU, you know?
  • What's an MP3? To 23 percent of people, it's one of those cute Star Wars robots.
  • Finally, two percent said that tablet computers were specialized devices that tell you when to take your medicine.

Not only can't Johnny code, but he probably confuses the CD tray on a desktop computer with a cup holder. (Don't laugh: some years ago a number of tech support people told me that they ran into this scenario on a regular basis.)

Here's one small takeaway from this study: If you make a product that uses technology, for heaven's sake, stop talking in acronyms and jargon. If not, you're going to find that someone bought your widget thinking it was a warm and fuzzy cap.

And if you interview someone, be sure to ask if he or she answered a survey for Vouchercloud and, if the person did, immediately put that resume into the circular file. Chances are, it belongs there.

Last updated: Mar 5, 2014

ERIK SHERMAN | Columnist

Erik Sherman's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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