Being brave with names

Mark Ramsey is usually right. This time he’s wrong, twice. "Podcasting" has a bad name.

Mark says "podcasting" is a bad name, and that something understandable, like "audiomag" would be better, because more people would know what it is.

I guess TV should have been called "pictureradio".

Not only is podcasting one of the great names of our generation, but it could have been even braver, not less brave. If you’ve going to invent a new product that is more than just an incremental improvement, then that new product requires a new slot in the mind, a new way of thinking. Giving it a name that permanently links it to old thinking doesn’t help. "Sneakers" is better than "athletic shoe".

Sometimes, you’re able to come up with a name that manages to be incremental to a tiny, very influential portion of the population and just strange to the rest of us. So, in this case, "pod" referred to iPod–but just to the 5% of online techies that were instrumental in spreading the word in 2004 (two very long years ago). In other words, the architecture of the name perfectly matched the vector the word needed to travel to make it. Compare that to the brave but foolish "RSS." (Really Stupid Slogan).

Sure, "email" couldn’t be anything but email, and that was a pretty chicken name. But in general, if you need people to think differently, it helps to be brave when you name something new.