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It isn't a very pretty word, nor one that is easy to pronounce.

It has too many u's. There's an awkward q smack dab in its middle.But there's no getting around it: If you want to sound impressive, toss "ubiquitous" (yoo bik wi tes) in your geek speak.

Everyone else does. "Ubiquitous" is, well, everywhere.

To wit:

- "The shifts in telecommunication and distributed networks is caused by ubiquity . . ." - Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale at the PFI Internet conference in Salt Lake City.

- "To carry that shift through, Java must be freely available - it must become ubiquitous." - Alan Baratz, president of JavaSoft, an operating company of Sun Microsystems Inc., announcing a licensing agreement with Novell.

- "This is fiber optics, and it's ubiquitous these days." - Technoguru George Gilder during his keynote address at Novell's Brainshare in March.

- "Just as the PC revolution was the result of low-cost, powerful microprocessors, the Internet revolution is the result of cheap, ubiquitous communications." - Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and CEO discussing his company's Internet strategy.

- "Great progress has been made, but it will be many years before virtually everyone in a developed country has a PC - and many decades before PCs are ubiquitous in developing nations." - Gates, again, in his column.

It's fallen from the lips of Robert J. Frankenberg, Novell CEO. I've heard it from Eric Schmidt, vice president and chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems.

The only bigwig technology person I haven't heard utter "ubiquitous" is Corel CEO Michael Cowpland. I guess I haven't hung around him long enough. My ears are perked, listening, waiting.

As the technology elite know, using "ubiquitous" to say "everywhere at once" makes you sound smart. People will stare at you and nod their heads at your obviously deep grasp of the complexities of technology.

Of course, they're really wondering what it means and how they heck you know what it means and how you managed to work it into a sentence, which is no easy feat. So I've come up with some tips for you. Consider it "Ubiquitousness for Dummies."

- At your next staff meeting when the boss asks what you think about anything say: "I think our best approach, as George Gilder notes, is to become ubiquitous, like fiber optics."

- You work in technical support. Next time you get an inane question (you know, "Where did you say the window was on my machine?") say: "Don't worry. People with this problem are ubiquitous."

- For party chatter, when talk turns to the evil Microsoft empire: "Those darn Seattle types think it's their mission in life to be ubiquitous."

Or, "You've heard, of course, about Bill Gates' ubiquitous problem?" And then nod knowingly and walk off.

- Say you're the system administrator and someone comes to you with a problem you've never seen before and don't know how to fix. Try this: "Hhmmm. Curious. I've heard this problem was ubiquitous, but until now I'd never seen it before."

There. You'll sound just as smart as the rest of the computer industry.