A really handy free tool for your tech-confused relatives (or maybe even you?)

Do you know your JigaPNGs from your TetraLols? Is a RibbiBit something I just made up? Did I make all of them up?

Of course I did, but you might not know that if tech is your foe, rather than your friend, and that’s where the ‘Sideways Dictionary‘ comes in. If you don’t know your ransomware from a trojan, or are baffled by bitcoin, the potential tech holds is more confusing than empowering and the headlines you read make less and less sense.

Now, when you find yourself discombobulated all you need to do is go to Sideways, and see what the term that’s confusing you really means – unlike a normal Wikipedia-style definition or dictionary entry, however, the site uses analogies rather than descriptions to get the point across. So, adblocking, for example, is ‘like auto-skipping the ads on recorded TV. The ads fund the programs, but if people can find a way to avoid watching them, they usually do,” in one ‘definition’.

There are multiple analogies per term, and you can submit your own if you register and login. Likewise, you can vote on your favorite analogies to see them rise up the page. And if you don’t want to keep visiting the site directly, you can install a Sideways Dictionary Chrome plugin that will indicate any terms that can be defined as you browse around the Web.

While it sounds simple, the tool is actually the work of Alphabet-incubated JigSaw and the Washington Post – whether or not user submissions will be vetted closely enough to keep all the analogies of a good enough quality to be useful remains to be seen.

For now, it’s a useful place to get a simple explanation to send to your perennially-confused family and friends.

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