Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Names and naming and search

William the Conqueror was William the Bastard (illegitimate and unacknowledged son) until his forces won the battle of Hastings and he became king of England.  As a result, "William" became a popular name to give a male child. An English professor once told me that at one time 75% of the males in most English villages were named "William".  So my name is not especially unusual but I have never been very fond of it.  Sounds too fancy to me but "Bill" is ok.

Somebody has probably done sociological studies and surveys to see how people feel about their names.  Imaginative and active people who don't like their names can often find a way to modify or replace their name with one they like better.  Sometimes, the new name is quite different from any name they have been given or inherited.  I admire the writings of P.G. Wodehouse (pronounced "wood house" according the biography by Robert McCrum).  I learned that his nickname among friends was "Plum", quite different from "Pelham Grenville."

The subject of naming came up for me because of that 87 year old gymnast.  She is amazing and we were watching her on a computer on Father's Day.  The music playing was familiar but it was a day later that my musical granddaughter remembered the name of the piece.  It is Brahms op. 39, no. 15.  Now with the name, today's world enables us to find it, to buy it, to install it on an iPod.  The name allows us to find people who can play it, buy the sheet music and look for similar pieces.  

There are one or more apps for some smart devices that can listen to music and identify it, I am told.  I don't have a need to do that very often but I am intrigued.  Music, voices, paintings, sculptures and other art is difficult to search but programmers, thinkers, inventors and marketers are working on finding ways to do so. Google's internet browser, Chrome, can take in sound but I don't know if it can identify music.  I am pretty sure that Google's image search can accept image input and search.  

In today's searchable world, having a name like "Periwinkle Gillicuddy" is an advantage if you want to be found.  Having a name like John Nelson can be good if you don't want to be found since there may be a hopelessly large number of "Googlegangers" with that name, too.

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