A Good Name

Jun 6, 2021

A programmer will often tell you that finding a good name for a function or variable is a difficult and important task. I tend to agree but sometimes I find its importance to be a little overstated; and can impede progress. Pick a name that is descriptive and mostly accurate, or don't (eg. famously named single-letter variables "x" and "i") and move on. That said, whenever the topic is raised I can't help but think of the magic in Earthsea. Of the power found when a true name is known. When expressed in a non-fictional setting:

Coining a catchy name for a field or tool creates a conceptual infrastructure that researchers can use to frame enquiry, says Erika Szymanski, who studies the rhetoric of science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. "Just as the constraints of a microscope determine what you can see with it, we can only ‘see’ things when we have names for them," she says. "Sometimes, trying on a new frame for thinking about the work we do is productive, because it opens up space for imagining new possibilities." -- Five trendy technologies: where are they now?