Analogy to demystify technology

The world of technology is full of jargon. This jargon adds to the mystery and further builds upon the intimidation barrier against embracing technology.

I find the use of analogies to be very effective to demystify jargon and the underlying technology.

RAM, HDD and CPU are often thrown at you when shopping for a new computer.

  • RAM, or random-access memory, is akin to your desk in your home office – it's your workspace. If you have a small desk, you will have to constantly replace things from your desktop to make space. For a computer, replacing things from RAM slows things down.

  • HDD, or hard disk drive, is akin to your filing cabinet – it's your storage space. A small filing cabinet means you will, for example after April 15, remove the prior year’s tax related documents to a box for storage in the basement or attic. A small HDD means you will need to transfer things off to your external hard drive when it becomes full.

  • CPU, or central processing unit, is akin to the engine in your car. You may opt for a V4, V6 or a V8 engine in your car due to how much power you desire when driving. A CPU manufacturer's product line may have an entry, medium and high processing power offerings.

Fifteen years ago, shopping for a TV was simply about deciding on the size of the screen. These days size still matters but jargon, such as the terms for high definition resolution screens including 720p (HD), 1080p (Full HD) and 4K (Ultra HD), are something you also have to consider.

I have to thank our friend Steph for this analogy: This new jargon is akin to the “thread count” in bedsheets where higher thread count means softer and luxurious. Here, 4K and 1080p TVs display more detail than 720p TVs. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that a human eye has a hard time discerning the image quality difference on a screen smaller than 40 inches; we’ll discuss this and more TV buying tips in a future article. Guys, just remember: you can use this “thread count” argument, I mean analogy, to justify a new 82-inch 4K TV in your "man cave"! On to some more analogies ...

Using Gmail, AOL Mail, Yahoo! Mail, and other email services is akin to having a post office box. But instead of driving up to the post office you can get to your email account through the internet, from your computer or tablet, from the comfort of your home to receive/send emails.

These are just tip of the iceberg. The point is that technology is “just another tool” and it usually has a real-world analogy to its utility and benefits. If you look at it this way, just like looking at a calculator or a TV remote control that was borne out of technology, the digital world tools may be less intimidating!

Next issue’s topic: "Shopping for technology series"


Questions about The Digital World

I just got my new tablet and love to use it to surf the internet. My friends who use computers and different tablets from mine tell me to use a different browser and it is confusing me. What are “browsers” anyway?

Any car such as a Mustang (Ford), Cadillac (GM) or Camry (Toyota) will get you from point A to point B. Any internet browser such as Internet Explorer (Microsoft), Safari (Apple), Chrome (Google) or Firefox (Mozilla Foundation) will let you search, shop online, read the news, pay your bills, etc. on the internet. It is like the vehicle that takes you on to the internet and you can use any browser you like – just like you can buy any car you like.

Have a question for Tak about computers, software or other technology? Send it to

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25+ years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

Read More on The Digital World
Volume 6, Issue 7, Posted 9:18 AM, 04.01.2014