Sunday, February 08, 2004

Word-I-Hate of the Day: "wi-fi"

Q: What the fuck does "wi-fi" stand for? Presumably the word wi-fi is a parallel formation to "hi-fi". The only problem is that "hi-fi" stands for "high fidelity", which was supposed to refer to the high quality of the sound reproduction that one could get out of a hi-fi audio system --- i.e., that the sound was highly faithful (fidelity derives from the Latin fides, "faith") to the original sound of the recording.

If "wi-fi" is like "hi-fi", then presumably it stands for "wireless fidelity". But what the hell would "wireless fidelity" mean? The whole concept of fidelity is irrelevant when it comes to wireless digital networking technology. There's no such thing as a bit being more or less faithful to its original source. A zero is a zero, and a one is a one, and that's that. You cannot get more zero-ness out of a zero by applying sophisticated technology.

The word's complete logical incoherence and annoying trendy marketing aura make me wince whenever I hear it.

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