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Push technology

Some people in the lexicographical community have been hoping that the avalanche of new Internet-related vocabulary might be showing signs of losing its momentum. But here is yet another new example. It describes a more active alternative to transmitting information than just setting up a Web site and hoping you will visit it. There are various kinds of push technologies becoming available, called variously streaming, channelling, broadcasting, or narrowcasting. They all rely on the same concept: once you have signed up with the push provider, information will be sent via the Internet to your desktop, to be viewed perhaps as a screen saver or a ticker-tape-style display. It arrives either as a personalised stream of data, or as a tap into a common channel that is analogous to a television or radio broadcast. The term is used both as verb and noun, the latter often attributively. It may derive from the term push polling much used during the 1996 US presidental election, which referred to a devious electioneering technique in which canvassers pretended to be conducting a telephone opinion poll but then used the call to push their candidate’s virtues.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.

Page created 01 Mar 1997