I work with a number of younger software engineers, so occasionally I’ll say something that demonstrates a sizeable generation gap. Usually it is because I’ve mentioned the lyrics of a song from the 80s, or some early 80s television show.
The other day I found myself more than a little surprised. I was explaining something to some of the boys, and at the end of my explanation I said, half in jest, “QED“. The conversation that followed went like this:
SE1: “What’s QED?”
SE1: “What does QED mean?”
Me: “What the? QED. You know, abbreviation for a Latin phrase that means something like ‘it has been demonstrated'”
Me: “Used at the end of a mathematical proof! Come on – you studied Maths at Uni!”
SE1: “Maybe you used it back in the 1940s when you were at Uni!”
Me: “Hey? What the hell did your lecturers use to indicate the end of a mathematical proof?”
SE1: “Der – we used the EQUALS sign. Maybe you’ve heard of it?!”
Ok, we laughed a lot – the conversation was quite funny. But I was also disturbed by it. I kept thinking about it and mumbling “QED? What the?” a lot. Then I said something like:
Me: “I can’t believe it. What are they teaching kids at Uni these days?”
SE1: “Sure, back in your day, after you used your abacus to calculate something, I bet you wrote down ‘QED'”
Yes – I get it…I’m old. 38 to a 25 year old must seem ancient. Hilarity all round.
So, I asked two other younger software engineers. They also didn’t know the phrase! So on to Instant Messaging, where I spoke to another software engineer at another company who knew me and the younger guys in question. He is a little older than them, and clearly a little wiser (he knew the phrase). His response to me was this:
SE2: “Don’t be too hard on them – they did study at RMIT after all”