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Definition: naming fiascos


One could write volumes about the thoughtless naming of technical concepts and products in this industry. Not just products, but the shortsighted naming of routines and statements programmers use when writing source code causes massive headaches later when others try to read it. Not to be forgotten is the constant renaming of the same application by marketers who believe new names mean new business. See USB drive names and digital media hub names.

Never Use Ordinary Words
A huge debacle is perpetrated when everyday words are used for specific technologies. "Object" is a very useful English word because it can describe any "object" whatsoever. When object-oriented programming was the hot buzzword years ago, "object" had to be stricken from the English language when writing about software development in order to not imply object technologies.

The same problem occurred with "component" in component software, once again taking a common word and turning it into something specific. Web services is another example, which can refer to any generic offering on the Web or to specific interfaces between applications and Web servers.

A while back, Microsoft used the broad term "automation" to mean functions within applications such as Excel and Word that could be executed. To avoid confusion, one had to be careful not to use the term in a generic way when writing about Microsoft products.

Generic naming has made it extremely difficult for technical writers who care about clarity, but hardware and software vendors are often clueless.

Tongue Twisters
A confusing name conceived by the PCMCIA was the "PC Card," which was a plug-in card and socket for a laptop. However, a PC card could also refer to any of several expansion cards plugged inside a PC. As a result, people would forget the official name and say "P-C-M-C-I-A card" instead, pronouncing all six letters. Thank goodness that technology is history.

The worst name ever was "intranet," which was given to an inhouse website. In a classroom environment, the instructor had to strongly emphasize the "tra" in in-"tra"-net versus the "ter" in In-"ter"-net. Listening was painful. Fortunately, the term "intranet" has all but disappeared.

Famous Names - Who Needs Them?
Marketing hype is often more important than clever marketing. Enamored by the Web frenzy in the mid-1990s, Novell added some Internet functions to NetWare, a brand known the world over, and renamed it "IntranetWare." Not only did the most familiar name in networking disappear, but the word was hard to pronounce. Novell soon switched back to NetWare. Similarly, Borland, a software company widely known throughout the industry, changed its name to Inprise and buried another familiar name. Later on, it reverted back to Borland.




Let's Confuse Everyone
There must have been a contest for the most idiotic names one could think of for the folders in this camera. See user interface.