jml's notebook

Renaming things is hard

Renaming things is hard

It’s often commented that naming things is hard. That’s true. A good name succinctly captures the essential details of a thing in a way that distinguishes it from all other things and that is instantly recognizable to many.

But that’s not so much of problem.

The real problem is that renaming things is hard. A name is a reference that is used everywhere, by beings and programs outside your control and outside your knowledge. When you change something’s name, you have to find everything that refers to it and change them. This is a lot of work and not always possible.

Because renaming things is hard, and we all know that renaming things is hard, we try really hard to get names right the first time. This is commendable, but it also makes naming things feel harder.

Worse still, the point when we name a thing is often when we know the least about it. Before the blank file comes the blank filename prompt.

I don’t know what we can do about this, other than build better tools to make renaming things easier. But if you’re in a position to be doing that, you should probably be giving me advice.