Monday, January 2, 2017

Tech Term of the Week - Cyber

This portion of my blog is to bring techy vocabulary together with traditional curricular, particularly in English, Science, Math and Social Studies. I hope you enjoy the lesson ideas.

We have just experienced Cyber Monday, cyber deals, and there is no end to the fear of cyber attacks and need for cyber security. So where did this word “cyber” originate and what exactly does it mean? You won’t see a mention of the word cyber until the 1940s with a scientist's use of “cybernetics” to mean mechanisms to replace humans. The sci-fi authors had a heyday with that and used the term for years to scare us with robots and cyborgs.  Our current definition, which more or less means anything to do with the internet, comes from novelist William Gibson in the book Neuromancer where he refers to “A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity.”  New York Magazine in 1996 penned it perfectly when they described the word cyber as “the perfect prefix” to make any word sound new, cool and “strangely spooky.” For English teachers, the etymology of words is an enhancement to novel studies or vocabulary. Students retain meaning when they understand a word’s history. You can have a great deal of fun with Ngram Viewer by Google. Type in a word and watch a graph display of it’s usage in literature over time. This can lead to some amazing discussion about words that are incorrectly used today. Why not map your vocabulary on Visuwords and checkout some great lesson plans about prefixes and suffixes? Or, lookup your vocabulary on the Online Etymology Dictionary where some of the information for this entry resides.  Etymology is where history and English meet, so there is possibly a great cross-curricular option as well.

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