The Associated Press in late May released the 55th edition of the AP Stylebook, including some 100 new or updated terms related to technology.
Most of these changes are the result of the talent, dedication, and hard work of Deputy Technology Editor Nick Jesdanun. Jesdanun, along with Technology Editor David Hamilton, completed these updates shortly before he became ill with COVID-19. Jesdanun died on April 2. AP dedicated this new edition to Jesdanun.
Here are some of the additions.
A digital currency created by Facebook. The cryptocurrency is intended to be used to buy services and exchange money with other people and businesses online. Transaction information will be stored on a distributed, encrypted ledger called the blockchain. As of March 2020, Facebook did not have a specific launch date for Libra. Libra should be capitalized when referring to the currency generally and lowercase when referring to it as a form of payment, such as she bought it using libras.
4G, 5G, LTE
Types of cellular technology. 5G, which stands for fifth generation, refers to a more robust system that in early 2020 was still emerging. Besides faster speeds, the network promises reduced signal lag, improving performance for some services. 5G will require new phones capable of tapping the new network. The dominant system as of early 2020 is 4G. 3G refers to 4G’s predecessor and is still in use in some pockets around the world. LTE, which stands for Long Term Evolution, is often used interchangeably with 4G, although early versions of LTE didn’t meet all of the technical requirements of 4G. LTE refers to one of the ways a phone company can deliver 4G technology. The other, WiMax, is rarely used. 3G, 4G, 5G, and LTE are acceptable on first reference, but should be explained in stories as cellular networks. 5G should be described as a faster, emerging, or next-generation network, rather than fifth generation.
No certification is required for a phone company to use any of these terms in marketing materials, and some companies have used the 5G label for services that aren’t technically 5G.
Do not confuse these with Wi-Fi, which is a separate wireless technology from cellular and has its own nomenclature.
digital assistant, virtual assistant, voice assistant
Artificial intelligence software that responds to spoken questions or commands. Some systems allow questions or commands to be typed. Major voice assistants include Alexa from Amazon, Siri from Apple, Google Assistant from Google, Bixby from Samsung, and Cortana from Microsoft. Although many of these assistants have female names, do not use female pronouns. Devices that come with voice assistants often go by different names, such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Nest Hub. Such devices come with microphones that continually listen for command words, such as “Hey, Siri” or “OK, Google.” After hearing such word, the device sends the subsequent command to the company’s voice assistant servers for processing and response.
Short for financial technology, fintech loosely refers to products and services designed to let consumers and businesses conduct banking and other financial services digitally. It can include the technology behind mobile and online banking, money transfers among friends, and tools for finding cheaper loans. Fintech can involve both consumer-facing products and back-end services and can come from both start-ups and established financial institutions. Fintech can be used on first reference but should be defined in the story if it isn’t clear from context.
More details are available on these new technology entries, plus dozens more, in the print AP Stylebook and on AP Stylebook Online. Tech entries that got an update include blog, dot-com, DNS, DVR, high definition, hot spot, and Listserv, as well as Apple, Facebook, and Twitter.
The 55th edition of the Stylebook also includes a new “Digital Security for Journalists” chapter. The guidance helps journalists secure their devices, online accounts, and reporting material to protect their work and sources and avoid online harassment.
Previous guidance on these important points, several years old, was contained within the “Social Media Guidelines” chapter.
AP Stylebook Updates Technology Terms was originally published in Tracking Changes (Summer 2020 edition). Members receive a PDF of the quarterly Tracking Changes newsletter by email.
Header photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash.