A Tribute to James Burke


Those people of you previous more than enough to have viewed television in the eighties might bear in mind James Burke, host and driving force guiding my all-time favorite science documentary collection, Connections. In just about every episode, Burke would start off with some scientific advancement, display how it led to other changes (in science, marketplace, or modern society), which would in turn direct to a further development…and the clearly show would wind up with some thing that most of us would not have connected to the preliminary “But for…” bring about.

Whilst I lay no declare to Burke’s erudition and class of believed, I have found that some of my posts here tend to mimic the Connections composition, commonly by accident…but here’s 1 with a bit of design as perfectly.

Let’s commence with a category…rideshare apps. This TechRepublic article lists ten of them, some by now house terms, other individuals you possibly have not heard of…my private most loved is quantity 1 on their record, Carma (detailed in the article as “CarmaCarpool”)…because it flips the regular follow of changing a “c” to a “k”, and in so doing introduces the term “car”, in a pleasant pun. Also very good:Rideout. Worst of the ton, IMO…Trees for Cars and trucks. If you had to guess, just from the name…a pine-scented air-freshener to hold from your rear-perspective mirror? (That claimed, they need to be doing one thing appropriate, as their world wide web website is still all around, though the [IMO] far better-named SideCar and RideScout are now out of organization.)

But the two you have heard of, the sector leaders, are there mostly simply because of early-mover edge, not simply because they picked particularly very good names: Uber and Lyft. When I to start with read of these, I was of the opinion that Lyft surely had the much better title. Having said that, nevertheless these both deliver billions (which is with a “b”, and plural), Uber is about 5 instances the measurement of Lyft. My thoughts…

Perfectly, if you had launched a U.S. cab business in 1949 rather of 2009, my guess is that you would not have utilized a word from the title of the German countrywide anthem. Far too shortly? By 2009, evidently not…so that usually takes treatment of my knee-jerk reaction to “Uber”.

But what about Lyft? It has the advantage of currently being a homonym for a typical English phrase, related directly to the provider you are providing…so what can go erroneous?

Well…there’s generally the spoken term. Spoken aloud, the sentence “I’m going to consider to get an Uber to the prepare station” is unambiguous. However…“I’m going to try out to get a Lyft to the teach station” when spoken is indistinguishable from “I’m heading to check out to get a elevate to the practice station”. That’s why, Uber has the edge on entering the language, and so gaining the commanding heights of the culture. (More on this subject matter here.)

A different explanation my first response to “Lyft” as much better than “Uber” may well be some own background. I worked for a quantity of yrs at an outfit that had made use of the exact same substitution of “y” for “i” to make its company name. It was the computer system company bureau, Tymshare.

Pretty easy, ideal? You want to lease time on a computer…you think Tymshare. Not so fast…there was a female in my mother’s circle of acquaintances who knew that I was associated with computers, and worked for Tymshare. I uncovered out that she experienced long gone for several years assuming that I was an inside IT dude at a organization that rented out holiday condos!

And finally, that Jungian, you-just-cannot-make-this-stuff-up coincidence…I in no way experienced the satisfaction of conference him in person, but there was a fellow Tymshare employee, a computer system engineer with a status for brilliance…some individuals rated him as (against rigid competitiveness) the smartest person at this Silicon Valley tech organization. His title? LaRoyTymes.

Until eventually following tyme…

–Greg Marus

P.S. I marvel if James Burke ever experienced any person occur up to him and say “Great to meet you! I’m the most significant supporter of ‘Love Connection’!” We may perhaps by no means know…

DISCLAIMER: This posting is by Greg Marus, an unbiased freelance author and does not automatically mirror the formal posture of Brighter Naming with regards to title kinds or level of popularity. For illustration, Uber and Lyft have long gone on to trigger a complete new course and recognition in names styles in addition to transport company possibilities. Special names normally win in the long phrase. Descriptive generics, not so typically.


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