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December 29, 2013

The Naming of Things

December 29, 2013

In our old office, the rooms all had numbers on the doors. The building came that way – so we had 206, 207, 208 and so on. We never gave the rooms another name.

When we moved to our new office this spring, we suddenly needed to name each room. One couldn't simply say, "Let's have a meeting in the conference room," without getting the response, "Which one?" 

One conference room became known as The Glass Box, in honor of its floor to ceiling windows. Another had the signature wall of wooden bookcases, remnants from the old Broad Ripple Library, which the building housed until 1993. It was dubbed The Wooden Box.

Near the front of the building is a big, open room, which also boasts high ceilings, lots of natural light, plenty of bookcases and a good view of our courtyard. Jeb, Abby, Jon, Kasey and I have our desks in this room, but it also has an open area with big wooden tables to use as shared workspace. We also host clients and lunches in this room sometimes, and it's been the site of several parties, like Boxtoberfest and this year's Think Kit launch.

Jeb came up with a name for this room, which also speaks to one of our core values, collaboration: The Collaboratorium. The name took quickly. We even named a big room in the basement The Lower Collaboratorium, or, The LC for short. This was all well and good while we were just speaking the name. Eventually, someone wanted to write the word out in calendar invites, in tweets and blog posts. And some real trouble began.

As you can see in the photo below, we all had different ideas about how to spell Collaboratorium. I'm cheating a bit here, as I've gone with my preferred spelling (but hey, I think this version did get the most votes.)

Jeb whiteboarding word spelling options

There were some pretty similar variations:

Then things got wild:
Køllabrehtorium (of course this version comes from Neil Kjeldsen)

We had a hot debate. We took votes. And we still haven't fully settled the score on this one. Here's the deal though – while we're naming these things we're building up our shared language, and at the same time, our cultural identity.

I'd even venture to say, we're having a bit of fun with this. See below, a posting by Drew to our internal communication platform, Anchor:

We have a history of making up words, or giving them new meaning. There's the story of how "nicing" became part of our lexicon, which eventually led to Nice Grants. There's Boxtoberfest, Julogist (a term we used to describe the timing of our summer Factory Week). There will be more, no doubt. We may, or may not agree on how to spell them. But either way, these exercises of the naming of things, of silly wordsmithery bring us together and give us a strong sense of who we are.

Do you have made-up words to describe your culture or the things you do?

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox.
Today’s prompt: What word(s) did you learn OR make-up this year? How did you learn it/make it up? Did you start using it?

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