Jigsaw and The Washington Post try to explain tech jargon with their new Sideways Dictionary

When it comes to understanding and writing about technology, one of the biggest challenges is dealing with all the insider-y terminology — particularly because it can feel so removed from everyday experience.

Now Alphabet’s tech incubator Jigsaw is working with The Washington Post on a new way to offer these explanations. Called the Sideways Dictionary, the focus is on analogies rather than traditional definitions — for example, BitCoin is “like digital gold,” while a zero-day vulnerability is “like medics discovering a new virus.”

Of course, these analogies risk being too simplistic, but the explanation doesn’t stop there. On Sideways Dictionary, the analogy is the starting point to help readers wrap their heads around the concept, and it’s followed by a (slightly) longer explanation.

sideways dictionary

In addition to looking up technical terms on the Sideways Dictionary website, you also can download a Google Chrome extension, and they’ll also be used on The Post website.

By the way, both of the analogies mentioned above were contributed by writer Nick Asbury. You can contribute your own, and vote for the ones that are most helpful.

“The more we can create a shared vocabulary around technology, the better we’ll be able to understand how it’s reshaping our world,” said Jigsaw head of marketing Alfred Malmros in a statement. “The innovation emerging from the technology industry is staggering, but too often we fall back on jargon to explain new concepts. Sideways wants to change that.”

Last month, Jigsaw announced Perspective, a project aimed at identifying toxic comments.