Do You Name Your Devices?

May 27, 2016 Musings 6

The naming of names

My niece calls her computer “Gandalf.” Our daughter calls her Kindle “Lupin.” We named our Garmin GPS “Mabel.” And my first car was “George,” because the license plate letters, JRG, sounded a little like “George” when you tried to pronounce them. (It could have been Jorge, but George fit the car better.)

Naming inanimate objects is a very human trait, especially when those objects seem almost to have a personality at times. From ENIAC, one of the earliest computers, to Arthur C. Clarke’s homicidal computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, to IBM’s supercomputer/AI called Watson, people have given computers and other “smart” devices names. It personalizes the device or system, and maybe makes it seem a little friendlier or less intimidating. (Though that clearly didn’t work with HAL.) I’ve always wondered why the Star Trek computers didn’t have names or at least acronyms.

We’re a computer-heavy family, with a laptop per person and a server for our shared data, plus assorted Kindles and Fire tablets. Every device has a name. Well, they have to, to connect to the in-house network, but we would name them anyway. It’s also easier to say “Spock” than “the kitchen computer”—not to mention more fun.

But we’ve noticed something odd over the years. When we name a computer after a character in a book or movie, sometimes it begins to act like that character—or similar things happen to it. “Luna” became a bit flaky. “Harry” died and had to have its hard drive replaced, although like its namesake, it came back to life. (It did die a year or two later.)  “Sirius” was prone to unexpectedly turning off or on—a bit of a rulebreaker, you might say.

I don’t really believe that inanimate objects, even computers, are alive, or have feelings, or that they truly take on the traits of the character they’re named for. I’m sure it’s just coincidence. But we’ve decided never again to name anything after a character who dies, or has something horrible happen to them. So we won’t be naming future devices after Dobby, or Hedwig, or anybody in Game of Thrones.

Just in case.


Do you name your computers, devices, cars, or other inanimate objects?  How do you choose a name?


Image source: geralt on Pixabay. CC0 Public Domain.

6 Responses to “Do You Name Your Devices?”

  1. Lola

    I do name some objects, but mostly I just stick with the brand name or something like that. I do name all my stuffed animals, lol. My Kobo e-reader I always call Kobo. My ipad simply is called ipad.
    My sister named everything from her guitar to her bicycle. It’s kinda fun to objects a name. That is interesting you had some appliances that acted like the characters they got named after. It seems like a good precaution to not name them after characters to which something bad happens.
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: French Toast RecipeMy Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Maybe we just notice more if the device acts or dies like the character, but still… not taking any chances. 😉

  2. Got My Book

    Before I actually read the post, I was all set to say NO. But I guess my car sort of has a name based on the license plate also. It was really just to help me remember the plate number when it was new though. I’ve never actually used it like a name. My other devices have boring names like “My Dell” or “iPod” on my network
    Got My Book recently posted…text: I Become Less Anonymous | Sunday Summary #4My Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I haven’t named the Kindle apps on our PCs; they get boring names (Kindle for PC Number 1, and so on.) But it’s fun to give the actual devices names. 🙂