Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ACK!

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

Over the 15 years I’ve been online, I think I’ve done a pretty fair job keeping up with the acronyms of internet jargon. Way back when, I was the first on my block to know “LOL”.  (Just for the record, I have yet to use “ROFL”, because I never actually do roll on the floor laughing in real life and am all about truth in advertising.  I will, however, admit to typing the occasional courtesy “LOL”, suggesting that I’m laughing out loud when I’m really just Politely Acknowledging a Pun. But responding with “PAP” would sound disrespectful, so I stick with the old standby, LOL.)

I felt a little less hip to net lingo a couple of weeks ago when one of my clients emailed me to ask if I was available to help him record voice tracks of his children for an audio project. He ended his brief email with “LMK”. That was a new one on me. I almost wrote back, “Loud Mouthed Kids?” but I had the good sense to Google it first. 

Of course, acronyms have been in use long before the worldwide web. We’ll get it there ASAP. I need a little R&R. Elvis knew how to TCB.

And in business, the list of corporations better known by their acronym is endless. IBM, AT&T, NHL, UPS, NBC, AAA … each makes their full real name seem laborious by contrast, plus you can imagine what the companies save on signage.

All of which brings me to this: what if everyone’s first name was actually an acronym?

I’d like to share with you a mindbending little word game my friend Bad Dog and I often played while warming up for a brainstorming session (also known as lunch). It was creative fun with lots of laughs. A good name for this game is “Ack”, for acronym.

You simply take the first name of any person you know anything about – from a family member to a celebrity – and come up with what their name could be an acronym for.  

Examples:

MARK (as in Twain) = Missouri Author Regaling Kids

CONAN (O’Brien) = Comedian Ordinarily Noticed At Night

HANNIBAL (Lector) = Hungry Antagonist Nibbling Neighbors In Beans And Liquor

Obviously, the longer the name, the trickier it can get. But the real challenge is coming up with something fitting, having some measure of accuracy. That’s really the only rule; anything else goes.

As well as being an entertaining diversion, “Ack” enhances writing skills by forcing you to find the perfect words within a very specific, limited framework. I myself have found that it develops a readier ability to conjure up useful phrases at other, more important times. 

Additionally, if you use the names of people you know, you’ll be surprised how soon you discover what you really think of somebody. You hone in pretty quickly on those revealing key words. So you get a little free psychology at the same time.

I invite you to try this little word game, and truly hope you’ll enjoy it. LMK.

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