Saturday, January 12, 2019


Irreconcilable differences between old and new can be found in something as seemingly trivial as naming conventions.  The industrial age insisted on portentous-sounding names of great seriousness and formality, to validate the organizations which spoke with the voice of authority:  "Bank of America," "National Broadcasting Corporation,"  "New York Times."  Each of these three names stood for a professional hierarchy which claimed a monopoly of specialized knowledge.  They symbolized a starched-collar kind of mastery, and they meant to impress.  Even the lowest-ranking person in these organizations, the names implied, had risen far above the masses.

The digital age loves self-mocking names, which are a way to puncture the formal stiffness of the established order:  "Yahoo!,"  "Google," "Twitter,"  "Reddit," "Flickr," "Photobucket," "Bitcoin."  Without having asked the people in question, I feel reasonable sure that the founders of Google never contemplated naming their company "National Search Engine Corporation" and Mark Zuckerberg never felt tempted by "Social Connections Center of America."  It wasn't the style.

-Martin Gurri,  The Revolt of the Public

No comments:

Post a Comment