We need a word for this awkward technical error. Here are your brilliant suggestions

At work, I tried to forward a message snippet from my personal email, but I got stuck. I tried again using my phone as the channel. Somehow the message faltered. Time was running out. I needed the yarn about gas sniffing ants for that night’s radio show. Smartass will suggest I find the story online, but every term I googled — ant, car, gas — led to more dead ends.

Hence the rush. the panic. Showtime loomed, the article crucial to the dinner menu, but those damn ants sat idly in a home document. The system was broken. My phone. A firewall maybe. The spam filter was empty. I called for technical support.

It didn't work, I swear!

It didn’t work, I swear!Credit:stock

His real name is Ben, the show’s producer. At 25, Ben has the i-Gen gift to decipher any flaw that might thwart a digital migrant. But as soon as he moved out of his dressing room, I saw the problem. Somehow my phone’s default address for the ABC left out the au ending. The suffix was fixed in two taps.

Be it your car, your PC, your phone, your dishwasher, you know the scenario. It’s part of the human experience. Your device is broken. Stunned, you call a guru just for the error to go away. An expensive miracle, often, since gurus rightly charge for their services despite the device behaving on arrival.

We need a word for it, I tweeted—that knot that unties itself as soon as you get help. Brilliant suggestions poured in. At the top of the list was “Undetechtable” – invented by cooking queen and radio colleague Alice Zaslavsky. Disappointment, evaporation and problems followed close behind.


Karl Quinn, a culture writer on this imprint, invented e-phemera, while neologist Terry Legg proposed POODATA – Problem Occurs Only While Absence of Technical Assistance. The acronym fits similar ideas ranging from Schrodinger’s Engineering to Vanical (a vanishing mechanical problem) to Resolution by Proximity.

“In software development,” explained one tweep, “we call this The Big Cardboard Ear. The moment you explain an unsolvable problem to anyone – receptionist, trash can, stray cat – the solution appears.” Crossword lovers who solve them with friends know all about the big cardboard ear, a vocalized clue that suddenly makes sense .

Lexicographer Susie Dent, the referee at UK countdown, saved the day with a German word. “Demonstration effect,” she shared, “or “demonstration effect” is how your broken washing machine magically starts working when the technician comes, or your child’s cough goes away as soon as you see the doctor.”

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/we-need-a-word-for-this-awkward-tech-blunder-here-are-your-brilliant-suggestions-20230313-p5crnt.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture We need a word for this awkward technical error. Here are your brilliant suggestions

Jaclyn Diaz

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