2015-02-17

You need names on the Web, it's dark in there.

The chinese character 名 (name) which we have seen in the previous post as the mother of all things, has an interesting origin. It's composed from the characters 夕 (night, symbolized by a crescent moon) and 口 (an open mouth). The clue of such a mysterious association is that you need a name either to call someone, or to identify yourself, in the dark of night. In daylight, you don't really need to know the name of your interlocutor to recognize each other and engage into conversation. You don't need names of things to find and handle them.

Interaction through information systems, and singularly on the Web, is a conversation in the darkest of nights. You can't see your interlocutors, you can't wave or bow at them, and you don't see either what your are looking for, and the system does not see you. So you need names everywhere. You need names to enter the system, to login, to send messages. You need to know names to connect to people on the social web. You need to know a name of what you search to ask a search engine. One can argue that all of this is rapidly changing, with identification using your finger or eyeprint, connecting to stuff or people using icons and various fancy non-textual interfaces. But under the hood, the system will still exchange ids, keys, adresses, all those avatars of names used by machines. If our online experience gets closer and closer to daylight conversation, poor machines will keep  for a long time shouting names to each other across the dark of Web.