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.