Acronyms and Metaphors, a love story

Blog Post created by jbevington on Aug 17, 2016

I love acronyms and metaphor and how they shape our world.


Acronyms are like tribal slang defining ecosystems, abbreviating complexity and reducing enormous monsters of incalculable breadth into palpable comprehension.  Acronyms can be used like surgeon’s hands in any discipline to cut to the chase and bring precise, even life-enhancing, understanding. Acronyms can be soft and gentle reminders; or too, acronyms can be flung like unsuspecting arrows and solicit glazed looks of uncertainty in the uninitiated.


Acronyms, though, strive for accuracy, like a wink-wink-nudge-nudge hope to convey meaning. They can end up being academically dry appropriations of something they are not.  Take EMV for example.  The feared disruptor acronym of the payment’s industry, just saying EMV can roll off the tongue like a delectable Rolls Royce sound of elegant craftsmanship, eeeee—mmmm—veeee; sounds like it was a secret password used by 13th Century European royalty or some sacred keystone siren chant in a Dan Brown novel used to uncover new passages of the universe.  Acronyms can have this power.


EMV = Euro MasterCard Visa! Is that what it means?   Yes, EMV stands for the 20+ year-old European integrated chip card standard.   As it migrated to the U.S. this acronym played a most curious game—it became the thing.  It, EMV, became synonymous with that thing on a credit card that users need to insert—the chip.   Standards in tow, the Euro crossed the pond to the U.S. and Visa and MasterCard were joined by the other card brands playing at the chip table.  Somehow, the EMV Queen Mary docked in New York harbor and waved a hand shouting “Halloo, We have brought you wondrous shiny things from the homeland.”


It might be time to bring this acronym home! Maybe we would have been better off calling it something with substance like a USAVMDA Chip Card (United States of America Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express Chip Card) instead of EMV.  OK, well, this is a bit lengthy for an acronym but it has a nice rhythm to it—rolls off the tongue like a Snoop Dogg rap; hip, true, and honest.  You got to love acronyms—but metaphors are the real cat’s pajamas!


Metaphors are the DNA of understanding the complex world we inhabit made into an analogy, a like or as phrase that creates a soft cushion reminder of what is truly authentic.  I love metaphors and I am convinced metaphors love me back!  In the payment’s industry in particular, metaphors enliven that DNA like strands of a divine sequence of numbers.  As a SME (Subject Matter Expert) of the MercuryPay’s API (Application Program Interface) documentation, it has always been a struggle not to wax on and into metaphor when, for example, describing the intricacies of an XML or the difference between a void and a reversal.  As we all know, well-formatted XML is like a well-tempered Bach Prelude played meticulously and exactly as written—you cannot miss a note, replace a phrase or stop in the middle without the audience and our processing server throwing a hissy!  Now, a void is like that birthday gift you give your girl friend, but she never wanted a long sleeve angora sweater to take to the Bahamas anyway so she sticks it in the closet never to be seen or worn again; a reversal is the delight in her eyes when you return the sweater, get your money back and let her do her own shopping for that trendy bikini she really wanted.


In our DI day-to-day operationalizing, strategizing and quantifying the integration process, metaphors sometimes play a starring role in how we attempt to capsulize what we do. Metaphors can lighten the intensity and placate anxiety—and the really good ones will set you laughing as they level set a common field of vision.  Metaphors are like that—they are fairy dust and release values at the same time.


Athletic and fitness metaphors are common as are chess games, fly fishing, Special Forces or Black Ops military operations and Dungeons & Dragons.  Sometimes small animals sneak in as well as large man-eating fish, baking, architecture, religion and beer making.  Yes, beer making. We love a well-fermented and balanced brew of payment solutions all frothing with features and packaged in a secure wrapper. Now that’s a tasty POS!


I think you will find acronyms and metaphors a plenty in VantivONE.  They drive the authentic by finding new keys into meaning.  Where acronyms might be more like our tribal drum beats of knowing, metaphors can lift us, TechLift us, to higher places of understanding.