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This is a tech blog and even we can’t agree on how to pronounce ‘gif’

You may have noticed that things have gotten a little bit more interactive here at the Switch. We recently started a weekly live chat: Switchback. (Tune in every Friday at 11 am ET.) And we have had so much fun that we wanted to share a few highlights from the most recent chat. Brian, Hayley, and I tackle everything here from the appropriate pronunciation of gif and doge to which television streaming device you should bet on.

Of peanut butter and Venetian princes

One reader polled us on how we pronounced two of the Internet's favorite words including the letter "g" --- "doge" and "gif." I chimed in on behalf of the female Switchers:

This is a topic of fierce internal debate at the Switch. Hayley and I are both originalists. We pronounce gif like the peanut butter choosy mom's choose...

... the same way the creator of the format pronounces it. And doge like the historical leaders of Venice...

(Dylan Matthews/Washington Post)


Brian, as we understand it, disagrees. (He is wrong.):

Hayley and Andrea are both wrong. Here's why.

The argument for pronouncing "gif" with a soft G is based on a presumption that originalism is always best. But there's no reason why something should be considered better or correct just because it came first. Hayley and Andrea should appreciate this most of all, as they cover technology — which is continually improving. Who would argue that the Apple II is in any way more correct than the MacBook Pro? Only someone with a profound emotional attachment (bordering on worship) of The Original. And that's fine if that describes you, but you have to acknowledge that when you interpret the word "gif" like that, you're no better than a Biblical literalist.


Don't worry, Hayley made sure he didn't have the last word: "I'm sorry, Brian, I pronounce words the way they're pronounced.  That's really all I have to say on the matter." Sorry, Brian. You've been outvoted.

We also fielded some solid tech policy questions -- including this doozy about net neutrality:

How can the FCC say with a straight face that they are not destroying it or creating a slow and fast lane? As people cut cords and move to an Internet only house, comcast et al have a very biased reason to not allow faster Internet. It hurts their business. Its already why we have to have a pointless land line phone even though it's not even plugged in for many people. What would it take for the government to determine that the Internet is basically a utility ? Our Internet is already very slow for a modern country and this shouldn't be the case.

Luckily, Brian was on hand to respond:

Actually taking the step to reclassify would be really easy. The FCC would simply have to say "here's why we originally classified it this way, and now here's why we think differently." This would be completely within the bounds of the FCC's authority, and would likely withstand any legal challenge.

But folks also say that the move would create a firestorm on Capitol Hill and among industry, which makes it really unlikely that the FCC will take that route until it has exhausted all its other options.

And one reader wanted some advice about which streaming box to pick up -- with the caveat that the reader has Netflix and isn't interested in picking up Hulu "just yet." Hayley managed to squeeze an answer in during the "lightning round" last few minutes of the chat:

Netflix works on everything, so you're all good there.

Fire TV: Still a little unpolished for its $100 price, but it will expand its catalog -- it moved pretty fast on announcing that HBO deal, for example.

Roku: Great content, but you pay for it. The $50 streaming stick is a good value, though.

Chromecast: It's cheap -- like impulse buy cheap -- which offsets a lamentable lack of content. Best for watching YouTube videos in a group, and for screencasting, if you're into that.

Check out the full chat here. And don't miss our chat this week -- you can even submit questions now! Hayley and I will be gone, but Innovations Blog editor Matt McFarland is going to help keep Brian company!

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.



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Andrea Peterson · May 4, 2014

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