Tech is such an integral part of our lives, but much of it is difficult to understand. If you’ve ever found yourself scratching your head over a particularly complicated description of some unfamiliar tech jargon, there is a tool out there that can help you. The Sideways Dictionary uses analogies and metaphors to help people understand tech concepts and terms like "metadata," and "net neutrality" in a straightforward way.
To explain the term "DDoS," for instance, there is an analogy about a private houseparty, where you've invited 20 friends – but where 40,000 people actually show up after finding out the details.
Another example centres around plaint text vs encrypted email, with the former likened to a postcard where anyone can casually read it while it’s in transit, whereas sending a secure message is like posting a sealed envelope.
"The more we can create a shared vocabulary around technology, the better we’ll be able to understand how it’s reshaping our world,” Google’s Jigsaw, one of the companies behind Sideways states.
From API to Zero-Day, the Dictionary is populated with around 300 analogies for 75 different terms, and the site is also open to contributions, so people can suggest alternative analogies for describing concepts. There is also an extremely useful browser extension that can scan articles for tech terms and search for those terms in Sideways while you're reading, offering up an analogical explanation on the fly.
Whether you’re au fait with tech terms and wanting to contribute your knowledge, or just a casual user wanting to increase your basic understanding, the Sideways Dictionary - focussed on demystifying technology, one metaphor at a time - is a valuable tool for anyone.