Friday May 18, 2007

Cool Technology Names

The INQUIRER is running a list of the "top 10 greatest ever technology names". Sounds like it should be a fun little read, doesn't it?

Well, I found it disappointing. It was nice to see Sun included (#5), but overall their list seemed pretty weak. With just a couple minutes of thought, I think I have a list that beats theirs (though I won't try to order mine or give it exactly ten entries). Here goes...

  • Eclipse. Of course, I don't like to see anyone taking a slap at my employer. But if you're going to do it, you might as well be clever about it.
  • Apache. Your project starts out as a collection of patches for NCSA's HTTPD code. So you end up naming yourself Apache (as in "a patchy web server"). Not bad.
  • GlassFish. Okay, I'm part of this project and I'm biased. But I really do love the name. After years of criticism for not making the evolution and development of Java sufficiently open and visible, Sun names its open source Java EE project after an animal which is literally defined by its transparency. How cool is that?
  • Niagara. It's officially just the code name, but could there possibly be a more elegant way to describe Sun's chip multithreading processors? If you've ever been to a presentation about Niagara, you may have seen a slide which compares traditional processors and CMT processors using pictures of different waterfalls. A traditional processor is like a very fast waterfall that's only a few feet wide, whereas a CMT processor is like Niagara Falls--slower moving, but extremely wide. If you're just trying to get one or two things done (over the falls), the fast and narrow waterfall is great. But if you need to move a bunch of things at once, you want the Niagara. Like I said: elegant.
  • UNIX. It set a standard for poking fun at a predecessor (as in "one of whatever Multics was many of").
  • GNU. It may not be the catchiest name around, but you have to respect the whole recursive acronym thing. What's GNU? GNU's Not Unix. Right, but what's GNU? GNU's Not Unix. But what's GNU? ... Abbott and Costello would be proud.

Anyhow... Those are some cool names which came to mind for me. What's on your list?

Friday Dec 15, 2006

Just say three-dot-NO

Ever love something but hate its name? You know, kind of the way you feel about your Aunt Mertalina. (Just kidding, Auntie--you know I love you!) That's how many people feel about Web 2.0: great ideas and fun to use, but stuck with one horribly hype-driven name.

I'm actually not in that camp (at least not any more). I'm willing to accept the idea that Web 2.0 has emerged as an example of useful jargon. It's been thrown around enough that most people who care know what it means. So we're stuck with it and there is no going back. I've accepted this and must recommend that you do the same.

Still, there is an undeniable dark side to the name. For one, any old fool now thinks he's brilliant if he slaps an integer-dot-oh name on some otherwise bad idea. Not good, but it can probably be survived. (For the nerds out there, at least we're only creating bad new terminology at a O(n) rate.)

But where things get really bad is the incrementing of the version number itself. So we'll not only be stuck with Web 2.0, but also the inevitable Web 3.0, Web 4.0, Web N+1 (aka Web I'm-Incrementing-Faster-Than-You-dot-oh), etc. And as we already noted, the arbitrary versioning craze isn't easily restricted to the "Web" term. That means we're bound to get similar version sprawl on all those other bad ideas mentioned earlier. Now we've got a problem (nerd update: generating bad terminology at a O(n\^2) rate). Yikes.

I see only one solution: the madness must stop here. There is a Web 2.0 (as we said, there is no putting that genie back in the bottle). But there is no Web 3.0, nor will there ever be one. Likewise, there never will be a Web 4.0 (much as I may appreciate a good rant). These terms are dead on arrival--no, make that dead before arrival. And it looks like I'm not the only one to think so. Sometimes there really is wisdom in the crowd.

Yes, there will of course be something fundamentally new and different after Web 2.0. But it should not be called Web 3.0. Call it by its real name, the Semantic Web (if that does end up achieving widespread adoption). Or if it's something else entirely, call it something else entirely. Don't propogate the unnecessary rise of bad terminology.

No one wants to hear your brilliant ideas for Web 3.0, 4.0, or 99.0 (and before you try, don't even think about some kind of stealth versioning with a Web 2.0 Service Pack 1 or Web 2.0 Enterprise Edition). The versioning madness must stop. And it must stop at 2.0.

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