Mark Smith's Journal

Work related musings of a geek.



Someone on IRC was talking about the origin of the name Dreamwidth Studios. I think this has never been posted before, so I went and dug up some old emails. These are all from March and very early April of 2008. I pulled out relevant sections, too, so they're slightly diced up.

Anyway, I hope people enjoy this. This all took place on the "Project Crazy" mailing list, which is what I called it. Because really, we all had jobs and lives, this was kind of an insane proposition. Yet here we are today.

In the beginning, Denise wrote:

I'm going to pull together points that were made in the irc discussion tonight and start separate mailing list threads for them so we can have fistfights about them separately and don't get mixed up. :)

So, here's what we've decided on names:

1). Doesn't contain "journal"/"press"/"movable"/etc -- anything that reflects on existing branding
2). Short and easy to type
3). Easy to abbreviate to a few letters
4). Contains an immediate sense-impression/identity/"brand" of what we're trying to do: grassroots, collaborative, user-driven, open, creative, not motivated by profit, frontier-web
5). Is unregistered so we don't have to buy it from squatters
6). Not connected to writing/journaling -- we're for all forms of creative expression

To which I'd add:

7). Not easily subjected to the playground treatment of subbing in a rude word
8). Available cross-TLD (at least we want the .org and either the .net or the .com if we go that route; I'm also open to alternate TLDs)

I've got createsit.org/.net registered, which, yeah, not perfect by a long shot, but at least we have something. I'm so not married to it, though.

Here are some of the alternate ideas I was dreaming up with a friend:

risewith.us (.net, .org also available)

Mark's not sold on the verb thing, though, since it's hard to verbally shorthand ("Yeah, I have a _ [LJ, GJ, Vox, etc]").

So ... open brainstorm, go go go!

Mark replied:

Yeah, pretty not sold on the verb thing, but if you think it works then I trust your judgement. Anyway, I was trying to think of something in Latin earlier, something about fantasy or dreamers or those who create, but I don't really know Latin and the web was failing me. That or some other language might work, a word that sounds like something neat, but really means something. But then, that's my own particular fancy, I like Latin words.

I don't have any new ideas, just tossing that out. Of the below though, I think I like dreamwith the best. Dreamwidth? DW? Meh.

Denise further replied:

Hmm. dreamwidth.org/.com/.net are all free, and dreamwith.org is also
available (for common typo-squatting). If we used dreamwidth.org --
"dream-width! it's like bandwidth!"

Okay, okay, kind of lame, but DW is a good shorthand for that.

OTOH, potential for confusion with Dreamhost.

Maybe we should make a list of words that we feel apply to the
service. (I believe that in Web 2.0 Circles this is known as
'whiteboarding'.) I'll start:


...for a writer, I should be able to think of more words.

Jesse (jproulx) chimed in:

Some latin words that pertain:

libre -- free (speech)
gratis -- free (beer)
cogito -- think/ponder
creo -- create
perscribo -- write
somnia -- to dream
somnium -- dream/daydream
dico/dictum/dicto -- speak
lector -- reader
recito -- recite
fabula -- story/fable


creolibre ... create freedom. Meh.

We should keep this ball rolling though. I dunno if we want to somehow involve some other people in naming a hypothetical site. Of course, we also don't have to name it right away, and can put the company under some name that is mutually agreeable and then stage the site somewhere and give it a proper name.

Denise, who has far better Latin than me, corrected me:

It would be creatiolibertas -- "creation of freedom" ... although
"libertas" would decline, too, so i'd have to get out my dictionary
to figure out what declension it was.

(I took three years of Latin! It has always annoyed me that the OSS
movement uses 'libre', since that's not correct latin. g)

(I still think I like dreamwidth.org, though. It's my current favorite.)

John (idonotlikepeas):

Hmm. I actually agree with Mark on the verb/noun thing. A noun-based name is easier to brand. Dreamwidth is an interesting suggestion, though. Have to think about that one.

Denise rolled it back:

How about cycling it back around to the dream/dreamwidth/etc thing
that we were going with? (I still really like it, it's easy to brand,
and it's available .com/.net/.org + one major typosquat.)

(Also remember: domain name + company name + service name don't
necessarily all need to be the same thing.)

We could go with:

-- Service name: DreamWidth Studio, abbreviated DWS, domain name
dreamwidth.org ("I have a DreamWidth" or "I'm on DWS")
-- Company owning DWS: DreamWidth Studio Coalition

Deciding he liked it, Mark acted:

I've just registered:

dreamwidth .org .net .com
dwscoalition .org (.com .net available)

Whether or not these are final is irrelevant. Just wanted to get them just in case.

Denise proposed we accept it:

Mark needs a final go/no-go on the name/domain name, in order to get
the SSL certificate. This is hereby the formal roundup thread:


-- The social media/blogging site formerly known as Project Crazy
shall now be known as DreamWidth Studios, http://www.dreamwidth.org;
-- The following domains will redirect there: http:// www.dreamwith.org, http://www.dreamwidth.com (and further to be
-- The business will be initially registered under the name DreamWidth
Studios Coalition and use the domain http://www.dreamwidth.net;


[ ] Yes, I agree
[ ] No, I've got a better idea (and describe:)

The name was accepted. Later, the issue of the camel-case came up, and Denise said:

I vote for "Dreamwidth", no StupidCaps.

And so it was written, Dreamwidth Studios was born.