When I wrote the title for this post, it seemed almost trite. I don’t mean it to be. The words we have at our disposal define the thoughts we are able to think. If you’ve learned another language and become fluent enough to think in that language, you know what I mean. I spent two years in Brazil as a missionary and grew to love the Portuguese language. While I took my required 2 years of German in High School, there’s nothing like living the language to teach you subtleties of the words. There are some ideas that simply can not be described in another language. The Portuguese word saudade, I think, falls into this category. Further, there are the synthetic languages, like Arabic, where I understand that one symbol can take a whole English paragraph to explain! Simply put, the words you use matter, and more than you might think.
My coworkers often chide me, because when I have a new idea, I’ll spend hours trying to come up with the name for the thing. Why? Because it frames the way you think about the idea and code names simply don’t switch well. You’ve got to get the name first. I’ve never really been able to explain this, but I just heard a speech given by Bruce Sterling that I think finally explains the idea really well and introduces several new ideas along the way. The Internet of Things, check it out.