by James Baughn
SILICON VALLEY, CALIFORNIA (SVC) -- According to a recent study by the Blartner Group, 99.5% of all possible five letter combinations have already been appropriated for computer industry acronyms. The impending shortage of 5LC's is casting a dark shadow over the industry, which relies heavily on short, easy-to-remember acronyms for everything from product names to inside jokes.
"Acronym namespace collisions (ANCs) are increasing at a fantastic rate and threaten the very fabric of the computing world," explained one ZD pundit. "For example, when somebody talks about XP, I don't know whether they mean eXtreme Programming or Microsoft's eXceptionally Pathetic operating system. We need to find a solution to this problem fast or chaos could be the result."
Leaders of several SVC companies have floated the idea of an "industry-wide acronym conservation protocol" (IWACP -- one of the few 5LCs not already appropriated). Explained Bob Smith, CTO of IBM, "If companies would voluntarily limit the creation of new acronyms while recycling outdated names, we could reduce much of the pollution within the acronym namespace without the use of new government regulations or programs. The last thing we want is for Congress to get involved and try to impose a solution for this SAS (Severe Acronym Shortage -- also a software program) that would likely only create dozens of new acronyms in the process."
Several members of the Internet Engineering Task Force want to place a limit on the number of new acronyms that can be defined per RFC document. "We all know that a huge percentage of the industry's acronyms were given birth in old RFCs," said one IETF participant. "Every Internet protocol has two or three dozen acronyms attached to it. If we could get developers to refrain from acronymizing everything, we could nip the impending 'acronymclysm' in the bud."
Eric S. Raymond has offered to help by requesting that the Internet community refer to him simply as Eric S. Raymond instead of ESR, thus freeing up a coveted 3LC. (RMS, JWZ, and LBT were unavailable for comment at press time.) Mr. Raymond also wants open-source software developers to reconsider using the GPL or BSD licenses instead of inventing another license and creating yet another acronym in the process. "Open Source already depends heavily on a steady supply of acronyms -- 45.7% of projects on Freshmeat use acronyms for their names," he said. "Don't poison the water with acronyms for frivolous licenses -- let's use our precious natural resources wisely."
ICANN Emperor Luart Synn, desperately searching for a reason for his organization to exist, has offered to open up a new Top Level Domain exclusively for registering acronyms. "Within three months, every 5LC from AAAAA (American Association Against Acronym Abuse) to ZZZZZ (Zoe Zephyr's Zero Zucchini Zone [a store that sells only meat products]) will be occupied. What we need is a central registrar for domain names and a way to resolve disputes between competing parties that have claims to the same letter combinations. We can do for acronyms what we did for domain names."
Mr. Synn's proposal has drawn mostly yawns from the CIAL (Computer Industry At Large). It seems clear that BECs (Big Evil Companies) will always win out against SFTDHARPPs (Small Fish That Don't Have Any Real Political Power) in any acronym dispute. At any rate, most developers don't like the idea of submitting an ARR (Acronym Registration Requests) anytime they string a few capital letters together.
Indeed, some people believe that the "acronym shortage" is a myth. "The military and all other government bureaucracies have depleted the acronymspace for years," explained one member of the Humorix Vast Spy Network(tm). "Virtually every 3, 4, 5, and 6 letter acronym has been gobbled up by the US Air Force alone since at least the Reagan administration. Has there been a crisis? Has the government collapsed because people couldn't tell whether a PDO was a Paid Day Off or a Portable Distributed Object or a Pretty Dumb Officer? No! Life will go on no matter how many acronyms we define."