When Good Acronyms Go Bad (WGAGB)

I was chat­ting with some col­leagues recent­ly and there was dis­cus­sion around how com­ing up with a good acronym can some­times over­shad­ow the goals of the organisation/committee/working group.

For some rea­son I am always remind­ed of a book we sold at Dick Smith Elec­tron­ics, which was seen as the great semi­con­duc­tor bible and we sold numer­ous copies:

Tow­ers Inter­na­tion­al Tran­sis­tor Selector 

This is real – you can pick up a copy from Amazon.com (or prob­a­bly your local DSE).

Look­ing at their most recent cov­er, I feel as though they are per­haps aware of their amus­ing acronym, and are rather proud — or maybe the robot­ic hand is not tweak­ing a mechan­i­cal zitze.

An unre­lat­ed and lit­tle known fact is that the USA PATRIOT ACT is also an acronym. It stands for “Unit­ing and Strength­en­ing Amer­i­ca by Pro­vid­ing Appro­pri­ate Tools Required to Inter­cept and Obstruct Ter­ror­ism Act”.

I have a strange feel­ing they start­ed with the acronym and worked back­wards on that one. Back­wards, and to the right.

Which brings me to a true sto­ry that is not quite acronym relat­ed, but is still pret­ty damn amus­ing (PDA).

Many moons ago I worked in a team where our IT sys­tem used a Three Let­ter Code (TLC) for each town in Australia.

For exam­ple, SYD for Syd­ney, MEL for Mel­bourne, NEW for New­cas­tle. Noth­ing to write home about there.

With the imple­men­ta­tion of the GST, we then had to come up with tax codes for each of these cities. It was decid­ed that the code would sim­ply be the town code, fol­lowed by the let­ter “T”.

For exam­ple, SYDT for Syd­ney, MELT for Mel­bourne, NEWT for Newcastle.

All was well until it was time to cre­ate a code for Cunnamulla.

Odd­ly enough, we end­ed up using a “non stan­dard” code for that one.