Optics

The word “optics” used to mean the science of light. It still does, of course, but it now also refers to “how things look,” in terms of public image and so on.

And from what I can tell it has only come into this use in the last year or so. I first heard it on tech podcasts, but it was recently in a front-page headline (though the second story) in The Guardian. And I heard it on the telly. I think it was in Agents of SHIELD, wherein they included an explanation of what it means.

I can see how it can be used in its new meaning, but how did it come to be used that way?

And it seems that I’m right that it’s relatively new: Wikipedia, googling: both only turn up definitions like “the branch of physics to do with light.”

Now Urban Dictionary’s top definition is exactly what I’m talking about:

What something will look like to the outside world; the perception a public relations person would have on something. First seen (at least by me) in article by Equity Private on finance blog dealbreaker

Economists repurposing words from real science to dismal? Sounds entirely plausible.


Understanding a Misunderstanding

Spotify has always behaved weirdly regarding how you queue tracks up. Today I think I realised why.

They think “Queue this track up” means “Cue this track up”. They’re thinking like DJs, but they are confused by homophones.

I’m thinking like a programmer, I admit: queues are first-in-first-out; but more importantly, like an ordinary person: you join a queue at the end, not just behind the person at the front.

See this discussion on their suggestions board which explains the weirdness, and is where (as I was adding a comment) I suddenly understood their thinking. Also definition 2 of “cue” is the appropriate one.

Edited: Queues are of course first-in-first-out, not last-in-first-out, as I wrote. That would be a stack, in programming terms. Whoops!