Presented by

  • Casey Schaufler

    Casey Schaufler

    Casey Schaufler worked on Unix kernels in the 1970s-90s. He has implemented access control lists, mandatory access control, extended filesystem attributes, X11 access controls, network protocols and audit systems. Casey was a major contributor to and the technical editor for the P1003.1e/2c WITHDRAWN DRAFT security standard. His involvement in Linux began with the Linux Security Module work at the turn of the century, introducing the Smack LSM in 2007. He has worked as director of engineering and technical program manager (briefly, and not all that well) in addition to hands on software development. Casey is currently reworking the LSM infrastructure to support multiple concurrent modules.

Abstract

You've most likely been there: you're a half hour into an important technical meeting and you realize that of the last dozen words you've heard you only recognized two, and neither would seem to have any bearing on the topic at hand. You look around and see that everyone but the presenter appears to be mentally grasping for some key understanding what's being said. Your carefully gathered notes say "SDL PRS review SS2 Smokey Lagoon PKR BKM". Somehow, the jargon you've relied on for precise and detailed technical communication as devolved into incomprehensible gibberish. Casey Schaufler, who's been working in operating systems development for the past 40 years, explains the reasons technical documents and presentations so often become impossible to decipher. There's much more to it than the unguarded and unexplained use of acronyms, abbreviations and code words. The impact of language background on the use of technical terms is explored. How cultural differences between individuals and organizations can interfere with technical communications, and how that differs from general communication is discussed. What can go wrong when technical documentation is mistranslated into plain language, resulting in words with completely different meaning also gets much deserved attention. Casey will provide examples, some humorous, some maddening and some otherwise which demonstrate the problems we face. In the end, hopefully useful and pragmatic approaches for avoiding the worst gibberish production are presented.