Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?
1. Those institutions at which "programming" may be used in the same sentence as "Fortran", "COBOL", "RPG", "IBM", "DBASE", etc. Places where programs do such commercially necessary but intellectually uninspiring things as generating payroll checks and invoices.
2. The location of non-programmers and activities not related to programming.
3. A bizarre dimension in which the standard dress is shirt and tie and in which a person's working hours are defined as 9 to 5 (see code grinder).
4. Anywhere outside a university. "Poor fellow, he's left MIT and gone into the Real World." Used pejoratively by those not in residence there. In conversation, talking of someone who has entered the Real World is not unlike speaking of a deceased person. It is also noteworthy that on the campus of Cambridge University in England, there is a gaily-painted lamp-post which bears the label "REALITY CHECKPOINT". It marks the boundary between university and the Real World; check your notions of reality before passing. This joke is funnier because the Cambridge "campus" is actually coextensive with the centre of Cambridge.
See also fear and loathing, mundane, uninteresting.