Even Tim Berners-Lee Prefers Catchy Names

Amid the controversy my Rename RSS contest has generated, this tidbit of Web history came to my attention. (Courtesty of my colleague Steve Outing of the Poynter Inst., who in turn got it from Univ. of FL professor David Carlson):

Apparently, back in 1990, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of hypertext markup language, realized that his global hypertext system needed a compelling name that would effectively communicate its core essence and impact to a broad audience. So he coined the term “World Wide Web” – although he first seriously considered calling it “The Information Mine.”

Here’s what Berners-Lee himself had to say on this point:

“Looking for a name for a global hypertext system, an essential element I wanted to stress was its decentralized form allowing anything to link to anything. This form is mathematically a graph, or web. It was designed to be global of course. … Alternatives I considered were “Mine of information” (“MOI”, c’est un peu egoiste) and “The Information Mine (“Tim”, even more egocentric!), and “Information Mesh” (too like “Mess” though its ability to describe a mess was a requirement!).”

On a related note…

In his January 2004 essay, “What You Can’t Say,” tech guru and writer extraordinaire Paul Graham quips:

“The statements that make people mad are the ones they worry might be believed. I suspect the statements that make people maddest are those they worry might be true.”

…When my husband read that to me this morning, I couldn’t help but recall the flames my contest has drawn from some quarters. Too cool. Anyway, that essay is definitely worth a read.