What's in a name?

For numerous reasons which I've already explained, I stopped using Netscape long ago. But my internet vocabulary was created while Netscape was the dominant (by far) browser. Thus, though Favorites is written on the menu bar at the top of my browser, for me they remain Bookmarks. I read the word Favorites and my mind says Bookmarks. I assume that the words are understood as synonymous by just about everyone, though a lecture delivered while working on this column brought me face to face with the rather surprising (for me) fact that this isn't true. During that lecture I mentioned something about my Bookmarks and somebody asked "what's that?". At first I was taken aback. These were supposed to be internet-savvy student with whom I was speaking. But it turned out to be nothing more than a case of different nomenclature. As soon as I explained to my questioner that I was referring to Favorties everything cleared up.

But though these terms are used interchangeably, they're not identical. The word Bookmarks suggests reference, materials that are needed for further study, items that we've marked because of a certain relevance. It almost reeks of the academic origins of the web. Favorites, on the other hand, are just that - things we like and therefore might want to visit again. Microsoft built the Favorites feature in such a way that it's hard not to organize them effectively from the very beginning, but their name suggests that perhaps there isn't any reason to do so.

So even though they function in precisely the same way, a sports site we click to frequently for the latest scores logically fits into favorites, but a lengthy article on evolution might better belong in bookmarks. Our understanding of these terms may well affect the way we use the tools.

Go to: Bye-bye Bookmarks