It’s all in a name

It’s all in a name

While I rarely stray into the upper echelons of our industry’s power and privilege, I like to think I keep fairly good company. The familiar list of names sitting in my email address book represents a healthy, hard-working and relatively important cross-section of ICT society. A few CEOs and CIOs, plenty of marketing and PR types, as well as managers, advisers, consultants, developers technicians and so on.

So, it was with some shock and a great deal of awe to see one particular name ping into my inbox the other day. Not for me any old Joe Somebody or Plain Jane. Not Bill or Steve, Larry or Sergey. Greg, Murray, Jeff or Anthony. Nor Matthew, Mark, Luke or John (but there’s a hint). Not even Barack or JK. No one so trivial. I’d received an electronic communiqué from the man above … Christ himself.

It had to be him. As far as I’m aware, you can’t name a person after the Son of God — although it’s perfectly acceptable to call your kid Superman, Disney, ESPN, Pilot Inspektor, Diva Muffin and Sage Moonblood, so go figure. In fact, did you know some countries publish lists of acceptable names from which new mums and dads must choose, such as in Denmark, Argentina, Portugal and Spain (which, incidentally, all appear to allow Jesus).

Likewise, Germany, where, as you’re dying to ask, yes, Adolf Hitler is banned, as are Josef Stalin (although not his real name, Loseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili) and Osama Bin Laden, as well as invented and androgynous names, so no BMW, Audi, Beyer, Siemens, Leica, Teac, etc. I guess that goes for Apple, too — or should that be Apfel?

You’ll also be interested to know, I’m sure, that in Malaysia you can’t be named after Japanese cars. But I hope you’re not surprised that a Chinese couple was recently banned from naming their child ‘@’. Yes the ‘at sign’, or officially the ‘commercial at’ — which always strikes me as a far-too-boring name for a great symbol. Just think Ampersand and Asterisk and you’ll know what I mean. But, then again, I guess ‘that squiggly symbol that kind of looks like the letter ‘a’’ is a bit of a mouthful. Any suggestions?

But I digress.

Here I had ‘Christ’ send me an email — and he works for a tech company in Wellington! Remarkable.

Of course, as you’ve no doubt guessed, it wasn’t the Christ. Just some imposter with the name Chris and a surname beginning with ‘T’. I guess it always makes for a cool ice-breaker: “yeah, just email me, Christ@ …”.

I am constantly amazed, however, the lengths some companies seem to go to make email addresses as complex and non-sensical as possible. For the life of me, I can’t quite understand why. If the idea is that you don’t want people contacting your employees, then it definitely works.

Yet, if you want that, why not simply give a person a number and be done with it. Surely, first name, then dot, then second name would work for most. Easy and simple. Not some last name first, underscore, add middle initial, take last three letters from your mum’s maiden name approach, which baffles everyone, including the person using it.

Okay, so some people have the same first and last names. By all means, then add a middle name initial. And then, if beyond statistical probability, they have the same first and last name and initial to their middle name, there’s only one thing for it… sack one of them.

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