“What’s in a name?” Selecting a name for a collaborative project

Selecting the name Digital Preservation at Oxford and Cambridge took a bit of time. Actually, it was the first suggestion since DPOC just seem to roll off the tongue. But, in a collaborative project most suggestions get vetoed in the hope of finding something better. After all, when project names exist out in the Digital Preservation community like Pericles or LOCKSS, you have high expectations; you spend a lot of time researching Greek mythology or Roman history in the hopes that a name will turn up that will meet the project’s naming requirements.

So what were the losers in the race to name DPOC? Well, here are a few favourites that the team considered for a bit:

PADLOC: Preserving Assets at the Digital Libraries of Oxford and Cambridge
Creative use of an acronym, but it was vetoed because the concern of the message given by envisioning a padlock. We’re not here to lock down our digital objects in this project! We’re trying to allow for the long-term access of our digital collections through implementing sound preservation practices.

This is open to a fair bit of interpretation. (Cyber Security, by Blue Coat Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0)

This is open to a fair bit of interpretation. (Cyber Security, by Blue Coat Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0)

CODPiece: Cambridge and Oxford Digital Preservation
This one came from third party suggestions and the acronym generators. It didn’t make the official name title, but the project is still affectionately referred to as CODPiece among the project team.

Romance of Alexander, MS. Bodl. 264, pt. I

DR@CO: Digital pReservation @ Cambridge and Oxford
I would have allowed for some great use of dragon imagery. But then there was also the option of using images like this:

Concept image for Project DR@CO. Courtesy of Edith.

Concept image for Project DR@CO. Courtesy of Edith.

That didn’t seem to generate enough enthusiasm.

In the end, DPOC seemed to make for a nice, short neutral domain name. And while not the name of a Greek statesmen or a famous Slytherin, it still rolls off the tongue. When it came to Twitter there was a slight snag. #DPOC is already used by the Democratic Party of Orange County and we didn’t really want to confuse anyone by mixing the two.


Note the zero – a little hashtag workaround

So, some takeaways when developing a collaborative project name:

  • Simple and short is always best. If you can’t settle on the name of a mythological creature or some catchy random word (I’m looking at you, PREMIS), then an acronym that is pronounceable works just as well.
  • Getting a group consensus takes time. Plan accordingly. Think how long it will take you to come up with a name and then do all the work involved and then double it. At the very least. When there are multiples institutions and departments involved there are a lot of people that must agree and sign off.
  • August is the worst month to start a project at a UK university. Everyone is taking holiday and no one is around. Get very good at emailing 10 people for the same thing. Be sure to have a lot of patience and tea on hand.
  • Ask anyone and everyone for suggestions. Someone, somewhere will have a brainwave for the project name. Keep a list, make flashcards of the words you want to use or draw a mind map. Whatever helps inspire you. When all else fails, use Google and http://acronymcreator.net/.

Any project names you think we missed? Share them in the comments below or tweet them using #DP0C (remember: zeros are for digital preservation heroes).

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