17th January, 2008

Don’t POSH me

As a rule, I am against forced acronyms. Take my least favourite - POSH. POSH is just awful.

Here, we see the utterly unnecessary “Plain Old” added to the essential “Semantic HTML”, just so that the acronym becomes a quirky, pronounceable word. What’s worse is that it is an initialism within an acronym (an initio-nacro-nym maybe?) because of the HTML bit. So, in reality it should be POSHTML, pronounced posh-t-mmul. Then again, without the pointless “Plain Old” we’d have SHTML (shhh-t-mmul), which is something entirely different altogether. Let me explain my position on this…

Now then, it isn’t this acronym madness that pulls my chain, nor the fact that we now also have poshformats (I know, I know, what next?). No, I think I just don’t like the word “posh”. I’m not a person that worries about class, or needs to bang on about my “working class” roots or my disdain for the upper classes and their perceived “poshness”, but this newfangled acronym just makes me think of toffy-nosed polo-playing in-bred freaks.

Consult the great oracle (Wikipedia) and the Posh (disambiguation) entry will tell you immediately that “Posh is the term used to describe over-the-top luxuries affected by those with social pretensions”, and we also learn that “in the UK it often refers to people who speak according to received pronunciation, or with a posh accent”.

You disagree? OK, what about the incomparably pointless Victoria Beckham, AKA Posh Spice? No? Really? Oh, well what about Peterborough Football Club (the “Posh”)? Too obscure? Fair enough. How about POSH as an existing internet acronym, which teenage chatters use to explain that a Parent is Over their SHoulder? Then again, this multifaceted adjective can simply mean fashionable, luxurious, twit or maybe “a bit fancy” as in “Ooh, that’s a bit posh”.

Basically, it may well only be me, but I suspect that POSH goes down a lot better in the States than it does in grumpy old Britain. The word just conjures up too many other negatives in my head for me to ever have a sensible conversation about “POSH” without poking my eyes out as a punishment.

However, let my rant not distract you from the cold hard fact that plain old semantic HTML itself is a beautiful thing, and that data formats constructed from the use of semantic class names (“poshformats”) are worthy of your attention. The work done by the Microformats folks (some of whom I consider friends) has influenced us all, and I for one am very excited about microformats. I just resent the “coining” of new acronyms and terms that don’t really do anybody any favours, save for the “coiner” who possibly feels the same buzz as an astronomer who gets to name a new star.

Or, perhaps I’m first in a queue of one on this. If so, do tell me exactly how “POSH” is of greater benefit than “semantic HTML” as a learning tool, please. Either way, I’m just having fun here, so don’t go telling on me to Tantek.

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