Sunday, 2 October 2016

What's in a Name?

Rotwang in his earlier days
In September the Royal Society announced it would be introducing a new grant application system. Now read on.

A marble-lined room in 6-9 Carlton House Terrace. A liveried footman is serving drinks to members of the Grant Application System Naming Sub-committee Working Group. 

Prof Rotwang (male) [looks at his pocket watch]: Well, we don't seem to be making much progress.
Prof Honeydew (male): I'm afraid not, Rotwang. No names seem to capture the modernity, the thrusting 'now-ness' of the Society.
Prof Banner (male): How about...the Newton System?
Everyone groans. 
Prof Rotwang (male): Yes, thank you, Banner. But I fear that going back 500 years might not speak to many of modernity.
Prof Banner (male): But he was rather good.
Prof Rotwang (male): That's as may be. But I think we've exploited him somewhat excessively already for naming things.
Prof Banner (male): Yes, I suppose so.
Prof Honeydew (male): How about 'eGrants'?
Prof Rotwang (male): Nice idea, Honeydew, but our current system is called eGap. And even when we came up with that it already sounded twenty years out of date.
Prof Banner (male): JeS-Lite? It's a bit like JeS, but lighter?
Prof Honeydew (male): might work. Make people think that it's easy to apply to.
Prof Rotwang (male): But we don't want that! We've already got too many applications as it is! We want to try to put people off, not encourage them!
Prof Honeydew (male): Okay. So let's think what might put people off. Some kind of connotation that would be positively repellent.
Prof Banner (male): Dysentery? 'The Grants On-line Dysentery System'. GODS. Has a certain ring.
Prof Honeydew (male): Not a bad idea, Banner. but perhaps a little too extreme. We want the veneer of accessibility and openness, but the base notes of repulsiveness.
Prof Rotwang (male): I know! How about payday loans? They always appear to be open and attractive, and yet anyone who can find money any other way will steer well clear!
Prof Honeydew (male): Brilliant! That's it!
Prof Rotwang (male): How about Wongagrants?
Prof Banner (male): A little too blatant, I think. Let's see...[scrolls through a list on his Nokia]: Sunny? Cashfloat? Moneyboat? Satsuma?
Prof Honeydew (male): No, we can't just rip off a name that already exists. It needs to be something that suggests happiness, hope, easiness, freedom, but at the same time implies that it's anything but.
Prof Banner (male): How about...Flexy? Grantsflexy. Sexyflexy.
Prof Rotwang & Prof Honeydew (both male): Flexi-Grants!
A moment of stunned silence as all admire their creation. 
Prof Banner (male): It's perfect! Completely meaningless, but suggestive of freedom, but with undercurrents of complexity and a lifetime of hell.
Prof Rotwang (male): Simpkins! [the liveried footman steps deftly forward]. Get on to the copyright people immediately! We don't want those upstarts the Research Councils stealing this one!
Prof Honeydew (male): Yes, good point! They're desperate to try and find a good name for their new system after [smirks] the 'Researchfish' debacle.
General smirking.
Prof Banner (male): Yes, that's a lesson for us all. Never put a bunch of men in charge of naming a project, with all the time in the world to do it.
All look at each other, and then away. 
Prof Rotwang (male): Well, never mind that! A celebration is in order. Simpkins! Crack open the port!

1 comment:

  1. A dimly lit office somewhere in South Belfast, a hastily convened management meeting at the offices of the company providing the replacement to eGap…

    Whinging Managing Director (known to all as WMD): So these Professors Rotwang, Honeydew and Banner at the Royal Society are calling their new system Flexi-Grants eh?
    Underling dragged into WMD’s management meeting because no one else was available (sighs): Yes.
    WMD (pacing): What kind of name is Banner anyway? Doesn’t sound like a real Professor to me.
    Underling: I agree.
    WMD (still pacing): Of course you do. Anyway, about this name. I bet they were shoved in a room, fed canapés and bathed in port.
    Underling: Well, perhaps…
    WMD: No perhaps! I’ve seen the bottles when I’ve been over there!! My spies tell me one of them had Dysentery or something. Couldn’t have been the good Port. Probably a job lot bought by that Procurement Manager chap. You know who I mean, the guy with a name like a cigarette, Fag or Smoke or something.
    Underling (trying to edge towards the door): Maybe…
    WMD (pacing even faster): Do you think they are on to us? Flexi-Grant is just something we made up to keep the bank happy. If they have gone to the trouble to get a committee together to name their system, they must be taking this seriously. Tell the development department to stop with the online poker and start building something. I don’t care how but I need something that is better than anything else out there and I need it for next week. Ok, maybe the week after.
    Underling (opening the door and edging out): I’ll let them know.
    WMD (curling up in the corner of the room): I need a nap. Where’s my blankie?