Code And Cocktails

To Name a Thing Is to Have Power Over It.

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(warning: an odd half-formed thought is contained herein[1])

  1. Yaweh let Adam name all the creatures in the world – this gave Adam dominion over all the creatures.[2]
  2. Medieval magicians believed that knowing the name of a thing would give them power over that thing.[3]

In software development we name things to keep tabs on them. To get a handle on them. Without a name we can’t refer to things — we can’t move things around — we can’t organize them.

More importantly: to have the true name of a thing allows one to have absolute control over it. Without the true name we don’t have full power.

Naming seems to be a special case of the power of language. With language we have the power to communicate, to do things collaboratively. Names let us do actions to things, and to collaborate on those actions.

Footnotes:

[1] In a discussion on Naming in the context of Software Craftsmanship I made an odd statement linking naming in software with medieval magic and the naming of all the creatures from the Judeo-Christian Genesis myth. I thought I could expand it slightly here.

[2] A mashup of the two Genesis myths (1:36 & 2:20).

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_name, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_Daemon