Old habits die hard. It’s a brave new world.
Hands up if you’re familiar with the term SOS (... --- ...)? Of course you are! Since it was formally adopted as the worldwide standard for signalling distress under the International Radiotelegraphic Convention 1906 (effective from July 1, 1908) it was the radio distress signal until 1999. Although GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) is the current protocol, SOS itself is still recognised.
Hands up if you’re familiar with the term CQD (– · – · – – · – – · ·)? You’re forgiven if you’re less certain on that one as it had a much shorter life as the radio distress signal, being introduced by Marconi in 1904. The 'CQ' element derives from the French 'sécurité' which was the common identifier on land based messages to indicate an alert to all receiving stations. The 'D' was added to signify Distress. The evolution leading to CQD was perfectly understandable although there was an issue that stopped it becoming adopted as the international standard. That issue was simply that if the reception was poor the receiver might simply get the general 'CQ' element and be unaware of distress.
The adoption of SOS (a meaningless sequence of letters, despite a range of backronyms such as 'Save Our Ship' or 'Save Our Souls') was clearly an improvement, but that didn’t mean instant adoption. Famously, in 1912 the Titanic radio operator transmitted the CQD signal as his first distress. His junior operator suggested using SOS and they transmitted alternating signals. Given that the SOS signal had been adopted since 1908, why would the radio operator still use the CQD signal? The simple reason is that the British fleet were still using CQD and so, despite the reasonably obvious benefits to the new signal, old habits die hard.
Staying with evolution and abbreviations and the maritime industry, if you find yourself writing QM at the end of a line, instead of using the '?' symbol, then perhaps you’re a tanker broker from the Reuters Green Screen era. How about writing NKAWW (or possible WCUO) at the end of a order? (If that abbreviation is double dutch to you then you’re too young to remember the BOE Code - it means 'What Can You Offer') We’ve written about TLA’s before and this post isn’t a re-working of that. What this brief missive is trying to convey is that the world moves on.
Good ideas emerge and get adopted. And then they get updated and improved upon.
Iteration can be one of the most exciting parts of any cycle. For example, seeing a product develop or an international standard emerge...
- Remember the first iPod? Then the first iPhone? Now the iWatch. The newest version doesn’t mean the previous iteration was bad, simply that technology has moved on.
- Remember the first eLearning to hit the web? Then the first video? Now the latest TinCanAPI based learning experiences delivered through platforms such as Coracle’s Learning Line.