What's in a name? 7 wacky tech monikers on the Web and where they came from

Jul 16, 2009 By Wailin Wong

Last week, Google said it's working on a Web-based operating system called Chrome, sharing a name with its Web browser.

In technology lingo, chrome refers to a Web browser's user interface. A cluttered interface can slow the loading of a page and distract users. wants to "minimize chrome" to make Web-surfing more efficient and focused on the application, not the browser's own features. It's a nice back story, but the name doesn't resonate with everyone. Tech writer Kevin Maney said last year that Chrome "sounds like a men's fragrance from Calvin Klein."

In that spirit, we decided to look at other names from around the Web and how they came to be.

BING

What it is: Microsoft's search engine that aims to help users make faster, more informed decisions.

Origin: Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has said Microsoft wanted to name its new search engine something short, easy to pronounce and adaptable to a global setting. The tech giant also is hoping Bing will become a pop-culture verb in the same way Google has entered the vernacular.

Success-o-meter: Hard to say. Bing is just over a month old.

VIMEO

What it is: A for uploading and sharing videos.

Origin: It's an anagram of "movie" and also a mash-up of "video" and "me."

Success-o-meter: Solid, at least by wordplay standards. Try coming up with a pronounceable anagram of "bing."

GOOP

What it is: Actress Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle Web site with tips on healthy eating, travel and culture. Its tagline is "nourish the inner aspect."

Origin: Paltrow told USA Today that it's a nickname reminiscent of her initials_G.P. Goop also "means nothing and could mean anything," she said.

Success-o-meter: It doesn't matter. Any Web site whose Caesar salad recipe calls for "dulse flakes" (an edible red algae) is not gunning for mass appeal.

FLICKR

What it is: A photo-sharing Web site owned by Yahoo!

Origin: Co-founder Stewart Butterfield explains on the site's forum that he and his wife/co-founder liked the word "flicker" for its connections with pleasant things like screens, images and candles. But flicker.com was taken, so they removed the "e."

Success-o-meter: Great, judging from the number of Web sites that have also thrown out their "E"s. A sampling of real sites: Wishlistr, Talkr, Tumblr.

NING

What it is: An online platform where users can create their own social networks.

Origin: Co-founder Gina Bianchini explains on the company Web site that "ning" is short and sweet, and that it was possible to get the domain name. Ning is also Chinese for "peace."

Success-o-meter: Bonus points for resourcefulness. Microsoft's Ballmer has said it's difficult to find a pronounceable, four-letter word that's not already taken as a domain name.

ORKUT

What it is: An online social networking site owned by Google.

Origin: The Google engineer who created the site is named Orkut Buyukkokten.

Success-o-meter: Mixed. People initially thought the name was a reference to Finnish slang for orgasm, which is arguably a more interesting origin than just taking the founder's name.

YAHOO!

What it is: One of the biggest and best-known Internet service providers.

Origin: Co-founders David Filo and Jerry Yang liked the dictionary definition of yahoo: "rude, unsophisticated, uncouth," according to the company Web site. Yahoo! is also an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle."

Success-o-meter: Huge (you've heard of it, right?); this site is the most well-established of all the ones listed here.

___

(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.
Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at www.chicagotribune.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Unlocking the geoblock with VPNs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google runs TV ads to promote Chrome browser

May 11, 2009

Google has floated its first US television advertisements, a campaign to promote its Web browser Chrome, which has captured just a tiny share of a market dominated by Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Microsoft posts modest search gains with Bing

Jul 01, 2009

New search engine Bing helped Microsoft increase its share of the search market in the United States in June but, still lags behind Yahoo! and Google, a Web analytics firm reported Wednesday.

Microsoft adds selected 'tweets' to Bing

Jul 02, 2009

Microsoft is integrating messages from prominent users of Twitter, the hot micro-blogging service, into the results generated by its new Internet search engine Bing.

Yahoo! launches Web answering site

Dec 08, 2005

Yahoo! launched a search service Thursday that will allow users to ask questions using full sentences and not just keywords.

Recommended for you

Unlocking the geoblock with VPNs

2 hours ago

In recent months there have been many reports of Australians covertly signing up for the US streaming service Netflix, using fake postcodes and software workarounds to fool its geo-blocking system.

Twitter-funded lab to seek social media insights

16 hours ago

A new Twitter-funded research project unveiled Wednesday, with access to every tweet ever sent, will look for patterns and insights from the billions of messages sent on social media.

Facebook makes peace with gays over 'real names'

18 hours ago

Facebook on Wednesday vowed to ease its "real names" policy that prompted drag queen performers to quit the social network and sparked wider protests in the gay community and beyond.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NeilFarbstein
1 / 5 (1) Jul 18, 2009
call it gnome
then you are really minimizing it