2002/10/13
 
11:18

The Name Game

When I decided to start a blog, I had to face the same challenge that all new bloggers have to deal with: picking a good name for their site. I checked out the ones listed at the GTA Bloggers site and saw a few that I found intriguing or amusing, such as:

Circadian Shift

Daily Drivel

Eat My Toronto

Ersatz Sprocket

Paranoise

Random Biscuit
Shoot the Ridiculant

The Spider Behind My Toilet

This Boy is Toast

How to Live Your Life My Way

I Love Me, Vol. I

Happening Fish


(You can find links to these at the GTA Bloggers site.)

As you can see, I get a kick out of blogs that have light-hearted names, or those whose name suggests some depth of perspective. One I didn't mention is entitled simply "Read Me" – you've got to respect that kind of straight-forward ability to communicate.

But what about my blog? I wrestled with all kinds of ideas that seemed clever to me, but I realized that this is akin to choosing a name for a rock band: no matter how outrageous your choice, somebody will top it. I once wrote a story about a punk band called "Surf Nuns on Acid", but after I'd been turned on to the music of the startlingly-monikered "Severed Heads" I realized that I was a rank amateur at the name game.

Should I go for the mundane? Nah. Who's going to tune into "Timothy Campbell's Blog"? I could hype it up a bit ("Tim's Very Good Blog"), but I doubted that would help. In the end, I decided to reuse a name I'd concocted for one of my BBS's in the 1980's: the two characters !? (see the FAQ for more on this).

A similar problem arises when you're trying to name a company. To legally incorporate, you've got to do a proper name search, and that costs money. I got lucky with my first company (The Inevitable Corporation) because nobody else had been silly enough to use it. But I know that some people have spent oodles of cash trying again and again to find an unused label for their enterprise. A friend of mine once settled on the name "Tolfan" for his business. I asked him what that meant and he informed me that it was an acronym: it stood for "Tired Of Looking For A Name".

My current company is registered only in Quebec and Ontario, so the restrictions are not as stringent. I call it "Pinnacle Software" but that wasn't my first choice. I first wanted "Acme" because (as regular readers of this blog know) I'm a big fan of Wile E. Coyote. That was a non-starter, though, because there are a bazillion Acme companies out there.

In case you're wondering, Acme means "the best of" or "at the very top of". It's a superlative, as in "Tim's blog is the acme of writing excellence". (I think I used the word right in that sentence.)

Looking for other "top of" words, I selected "Apogee", which refers to the high point of an orbit in space. Additionally, I thought this was cute because at the time I was trying to get off Unemployment Insurance benefits. Since Canadians refer to UI as "the pogie", I figured I was starting "A pogie company". Apogee. A pogie company. Get it? Anyway...

Turns out the name "Apogee Software" was already taken by several companies – and one of them was very well known indeed for their computer games. Sigh.

So that's how I arrived at "Pinnacle Software". It's dull, but I was tolfan.

Some years later, I wanted to start another company and I consulted with my good friend James for suggestions. We had observed two things: first, that there are a lot of mooshed-together company names like CompuDynaMegaTech, and second, that I might get better sales results online if my company appeared at first glance to be American rather than Canadian.

After much discussion, we decided to combine "Pro" (denoting professionalism) with "State" (suggesting the good ol' USA). And thus, the company Pro-State was born. Almost.

It's fortunate that before I filed the papers I realized that I was about to name my company "prostate". Oops.

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