Remember the Heartbleed bug, the zero-day vulnerability in the open source encryption library used by many servers? Now, that last sentence was about an important topic that we should all care about — vulnerabilities of the global internet — but it’s so full of tech jargon that it’s incomprehensible to most people.
Technical jargon makes it harder to understand the tools and technologies shaping our daily lives. And unfortunately there’s plenty about technology that can be confusing, from the encryption debate to the fuss over net neutrality. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simpler way to understand complex technology?
Whenever you’re confused by a technology term, visit Sideways to find simple, colorful analogies to help explain what the term means. For example, a DDoS attack is a type of cyber attack where the attacker overwhelms a server with malicious traffic, thereby taking a server offline. Or, if you think about it a bit sideways, it’s like hosting a birthday party for your 10-year-old niece where you’ve invited 20 of her closest friends to attend — only 40,000 kids show up. Overwhelming, right?
Different analogies appeal to different people, so we want you to suggest your own — the quirkier and more personal, the better — and vote for the ones you find most helpful. The Washington Post moderates all submissions. You’ll see that a lot of the current analogies are added by our first power-user, Nick Asbury, an analogy-obsessed writer and wit from the UK. We’ve also asked some of our friends to add their favorite analogies — including Eric Schmidt, Alphabet’s Executive Chairman, and Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers of the internet.” We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with or hear about how you’ve used one.