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Quick Thoughts: What's in a Name?

students collaborating on coding project

Hey all –

I had a couple of thoughts over the holiday that I wanted to share. This goes under my “random” category of posts…

Best Buy

The name “Best Buy” is supposed to mean that you get the optimal value for your purchase. Some people would consider that to mean the lowest price, but perhaps it’s more about bundled services or the convenience of getting it immediately as opposed to waiting for a delivery. Regardless, I think that there’s another way to consider this name – what if “Best Buy” really means “Best By,” the common language on perishables such as food or medicine. This would make a lot of sense when it comes to technology. There are very few items at Best Buy, besides media, that have stayed on the shelf for more than 10 years… 5 years… 2 years. Technology has a shelf date. My parents had a TV for over 20 years – I can’t imagine still using the TV I have in 20 years. It will be out of date! The moment you buy something at Best Buy is the moment it’s value starts to go down. There will always be something bigger and better around the corner.

Technology has a way of doing that. My father was a computer pro when I was around 4 years old and then at some point in the following decade I surpassed him by far. The technology out-sped his willingness to keep up. This is what happens when you depend on learning simply by doing, that is, opening a box and figuring it all out. That works for a long time, but soon there are small details that are not obvious to the amateur users – details that require a slight bit of training and then are completely intuitive. Classes in technology (such as those offered by iD Tech, ahem) highlight these small, but important, features of programs so that the participant’s knowledge will long outlast the particular technology that’s the focus of the moment. And that’s the real best buy!


My mom got me a WiiU for Christmas and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I was absolutely surprised at first – I hadn’t asked for one directly, although I am obsessed with video games and Nintendo has some of my favorites. I was not convinced that this system was going to be the killer app that the Wii was. I was wrong. The WiiU is pretty amazing, for reasons I’ll write about in a future entry. There is a need for more games, but time will change that.

In the spirit of this post, however, I can criticize the name. WiiU means that “You” are playing with “We.” I get that. We are all playing together and there is a “You” involved. That “You” can either be the person on the actual gamepad, which is a unique and wonderful separation of gaming power with multiplayer experiences. Or it can be the “You” of a vibrant online community that was missing from the original Wii. So it makes sense. The problem, though, is that western audiences don’t get that. We see “WiiU” and think that it’s a university or an add-on for the Wii. The “U” after a game’s title is appealing now, but after a while won’t there be “U 2” games? That will be very confusing. “Guitar Hero U 2” will mean two different things at once!

Arrested Development

I am very excited that Arrested Development is going to return to the airwaves (albeit Netflix) in 2013. It’s one of my favorite shows ever. Rewatching the show this week, though, I had a thought – perhaps it was canceled purposely. Rather, perhaps the creators of the show staged the actual cancelation. The show’s title literally means prematurely stopped. And the show itself is so brilliant and quick that I can’t imagine being able to keep the pace at the momentum without falling into the Simpsons Season 11 trap. People call that “jumping the shark,” but I think it’s more than that. I think Arrested Development was so focused on having every line be perfect, a setup / punchline / double meaning / callback / meta-reference, that the writers could have easily hit a dead end and decided to call it quits. Louie did it – he’s not airing any more episodes until 2014 so he can develop material that matches the standard that he already setup. Anyway, it’s worth thinking about as the show is about to reappear with brand new episodes – and wait patiently for the scores of arguments online that will compare the show to itself in that, “It’s not as good as it used to be…” way.