An Acronym: By Any Other Name

The first time that I can remember an acronym got my attention was in the very late '60s. My contemporaries started to pepper their salutation "Hey, mon" -- a Jamaican pronunciation of "man" equally proffered to both males and females -- and "what's happening" with "what's your "M.O.?" Initially, I thought this reference was to me. "M" and "O" are the first initials of my first and last names, Mitch Oscar. By happenstance, I soon found out that it stood for the abbreviated Latin phrase modus operandi, meaning how do you operate, coupled with your relationship to the planet, the spiritual realm, magic realism (Slaughterhouse-Five, Steppenwolf, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way Of Knowledge) and anything that you imbibed in the last few seconds.

Years traveled before I was introduced in the very late '90s to another quizzical acronym that in hindsight is probably considered one of the most disruptive to the late 20th century's sedate television universe: the PVR, the personal video recorder. Given its functionality, and my area of professional proclivities, I quickly gravitated to its unique, enabling TV viewing personality. Then suddenly another acronym was used interchangeably with the PVR -- the DVR, the digital video recorder. No discernable difference. I remember spending long hours in conversation with my clients and executive agency management trying to explain its functionality, its burgeoning place in the media universe, the implicit demise of viewing commercials on linear television and that PVR and DVR were one and the same.

Around the same time, the media community was grappling with another set of variegating acronyms representing a technology that enabled viewers to search their TV programs efficiently with their remote control -- as well as provide program descriptions -- called the Electronic Program Guide (EPG). If I am not mistaken, the term Electronic Program Guide and acronym EPG was the invention of the litigious Gemstar folks of the mid- to late 90s. Shortly thereafter, a new acronym for electronic program guiding swept into the community -- the IPG, the Interactive Program Guide. No discernable difference. I remember spending long hours in conversation with my clients and executive agency management trying to explain its functionality, its burgeoning place in the media universe, vivisecting its promising advertising applications and that EPG and IPG were one and the same.

Now, in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, I would like to propose another acronym that extends the functionality and realm of the designated "I" and "E" program guides: the IMG, the Interactive Media Guide. This acronym is not my creation but had been presented by Jason Malamud, head ad sales guy for Verizon's video service FiOS, at last week's 4As Digital Video Innovations Committee. I thought at the time, who needs another acronym for the program guide. Upon reflection, I think the ad community does. When the "I" and "E" program guides were first introduced, their primary focus was TV programs (date, time, channel, duration and description). But now consumers and the media community are experiencing the migration of many services that are prevalent in online portals to the TV portals of cable, satellite and telecos, such as music, video-on-demand, photos, games, movies, user-generated content and of course, linearly scheduled TV programs. Entering into the televisual experience is about media, no longer just linear TV programs. Sounds like Interactive Media Guide to me.

A thought: perhaps acronyms were the first iteration of the popular mobile short codes. Fodder for another blog.

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