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Tech terms stymie Americans: 11 percent believe HTML is an STD

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If you want to talk tech, speaking to most Americans probably will produce only puzzled looks. Most in the U.S. aren't all that tech-savvy, a study released Tuesday (by Vouchercloud.net via the Los Angeles Times) showed.

It's not simply that perhaps the public doesn't understand how a cell phone works, or perhaps even how a plane stays aloft. Instead, it's all the technical lingo that Americans just aren't up on.

Perhaps the most humorous involves HTML. That stands for HyperText Markup Language, which is used to generate web pages and other content that can be display in a web browser. However, a small percentage (11 percent) believed that HTML was an STD.

While that was the funniest response, others examples of misconceptions were:

  • 77 percent of respondents could not identify what SEO means. SEO stands for "search engine optimization," which is the methodology used to affect the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's un-paid ("organic") search results.
  • 42 percent said they believed a "motherboard" was "the deck of a cruise ship."
  • 27 percent said that "gigabyte" as an insect commonly found in South America. Instead, gigabyte or GB is a unit of measurement for storage.
  • 23 percent thought an "MP3" was a "Star Wars" robot. It is actually an audio file.
  • 18 percent thought that "Blu-ray" was a marine animal (we assume, like stingray).
  • 15 percent said that they believed "software" was comfortable clothing ("softwear").
  • 12 percent said that "USB" was the acronym of a European country. Instead, it is a peripheral interface used to connect external devices such as optical or hard drives to a computer via cable.

Despite the poor results, 61 percent of respondents said it is important to have a good knowledge of technology in our current society.

The study involved 2,392 men and women 18 years of age or older. The participants were not told that the study was specificallylooking into their knowledge of techical terminology. The study was multiple choice; to disguise it, respondents were given both technical and non-technical terms and were asked to choose from three possible definitions.

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