I'm working on building a community building-centric EA outreach office in Harvard square, and

we still don't have a great name for the office!

 (e.g. Constellation, Lightcone, Trajan House).

So: 

Please Suggest some names that you think would be great

(maybe with some explanation) and you might get to name a long-lasting piece of EA community infrastructure ! 

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You could call it the Harvard Square Effective Altruism Space. Relatedly, the New York one could be called the New York EA Space.  Makes them easy to find!

Like the idea of having the place in the name, but I think we can keep that while also making the name cool/fun? 

Personally I wouldn't be opposed to calling EA spaces "constellations" in general, and just calling this one the "Harvard Constellation" or something. This is mostly because I think Constellation is an extraordinarily good name - it's when a bunch of stars get together to create something bigger that'll shine light into the darkness :)

Alternatively, "Harvard Hub" is both easy and very punchy.

Don't like including the actual words EA in the name of the space, since among other reasons it increases the chances of hypocrisy charges (from people who haven't thought much about the effects of nice offices on productivity) for getting a nice central office space while ostensibly being altruistic

2RyanCarey4mo
If that's a major concern, then could instead call it "Harvard Square Longtermist Space".
2levin4mo
This would make it sort of weird if we had non-longtermists doing e.g. EA meta work in the space, or if Harvard EA wanted to have an animal welfare thing there; see #2 on "common mistakes when naming an org or project [https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/GDvzqRcs9QkNMynkY/three-common-mistakes-when-naming-an-org-or-project#2___Don_t_artificially_lock_yourself_into_a_particular_strategy_with_your_name] "
2Linch4mo
I think it's maybe not that costly to rename an office space. Office spaces aren't meant to be very external-facing.
2Guy Raveh4mo
I imagine the main use case outside Harvard itself to be things like "Come visit us at Harvard and work in the Harvard Hub!", or "Have you talked to Kaleem about this project idea? It's right up their alley, you can find them at the Harvard Hub". I actually think for internal purposes a name might be redundant - they can just call it"our office". This is what we currently do in EA Israel.
2RyanCarey4mo
Harvard Square Future Space? (Animals and meta can also be included in improving the future!)

Bit of a mouthful though?

Aardvark

Pros:

  • Appears first on any list or registry, and piques curiosity - may help in expanding the community
  • Cute but weird animal name may attract both biologists and nerds in general
  • Sounds a bit like "Harvard", so won't be hard to associate with it in memory
  • Fun to let people try to say "Harvard Aardvark" repeatedly

Cons:

  • Not immediately related to effectiveness or altruism. But all the astronomy names aren't either.

Edit: this comment is about 60% serious. Also I think amusing names are a good and underexplored direction.

"Supercluster", "Triangulum", or "Centaurus"?

Keeping with the astronomial theme of "Lightcone" and "Constellation", while also sounding like they could be the names for gatherings of people

Supercluster is ... so good

Roughly in order of my preferences:

  • Apollo, or Apollo Center/Hall/House/etc. God of "archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the sun and light, poetry, and more," a "protector of the young" (appropriate given the university setting), and of course the namesake of the NASA mission, so a space connection. Maybe "Apollo Harvard Square" or something?
  • Related: Athenaeum, which leans into the academic setting, the classical references throughout Harvard Square (street named "Appian Way," classical-inspired architecture in the Yard), and is a common name for libraries/centers of knowledge. Could also be "Harvard Square Athenaeum"
  • Arete or Agathon, both of which mean some combination of excellence, integrity, and wisdom and are already the names of Harvard EA programs (which I think is good). (For some reason I like stuff that starts with an A; seems lively and high-priority.)
  • Prospect. Looking-forward, which is nice given the location overlooking Harvard Square, longtermist/futuristic but in a horizon-scanning risk-aware way, and hopeful. "Prospect" as a noun has lots of meanings, all of which seem like good connotations, which is nice.
  • Paradigm.
  • Petrov Center, Petrov Hall, Petrov House
  • Parfit Center, Parfit Hall, Parfit House
  • Aphelion.
  • Georgian House. "George" honors Henry George, the brilliant economist and philosopher that I'd consider a proto-EA (and whose adherents are way overrepresented in EA), and Curious George, since the world's only Curious George store was formerly in the same building (and the building is known as the "Curious George building" among alumni and longtime residents). Also a strong Harvard connection, as Georgian is the architectural style of the Yard and the official font of the university.
  • The noun "Crossing" seems pretty good, since it's right in the square. Brattle Crossing, Kennedy Crossing, Apollo/Athena/Prospect/Petrov/Parfit Crossing, etc.
  • I like Beacon from aL's comment and Aperture from Linch's. I would like Supercluster (and Andromeda) but seems too similar to Constellation
  • Harvard Square Horizon. Sounds a bit like a daycare, but horizons are very apt for what we do
  • Knowledge Commons, as in "Common Knowledge," though maybe this is like, too on the nose.

[Name] + [Center/House] might give the impression that the building is dedicated to the study of [Name]'s work. 

+1 to crossing as a second word in the name.

Aperture is maybe too close to Aperture Science from Portal? could be ironic ("we do what we must, because we can") 

rip Curious George store, but Georgian is an architectural adjective already so it probably wouldn't be prioritized in a search for"Georgian house". Similarly, a lot of good names collide with Cambridge street names (Beacon, Prospect, Athens, etc.) so the search term "[Name] office cambridge" wouldn't be so nice for us.

4levin4mo
Also I don't think the first point is correct. Does anyone think the Barker Center is dedicated to the study of whoever Barker is? Or William James Hall to William James? Or the various Harvard houses dedicated to the study of their namesakes? Also "Georgian house" currently returns zero search results [https://www.google.com/maps/search/georgian+house/@42.3700616,-71.1336334,14.27z] in the area.
2aL4mo
elaboration on the first point - my initial arg is pretty weak. the more pressing concern is that i think names can sometimes be read as a casual endorsement, continuation of a legacy, or a reward for sponsorship (neither of which makes sense for us). names attract more side-eyeing. Lowell house is constantly under fire because Abbott Lawrence Lowell was racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic; Indigenous Peoples' Day has been adopted as a rejection of Columbus; etc. i don't want to deal w problems because Petrov was a USSR soldier. William James was also a progenitor of all modern psych and a Harvard prof, which doesn't really parallel well w/ using Parfit in the name for us. Safer route is to not use names, when equally good non-proper nouns exist. i'm more concerned w/ "georgian house" as a general term; it seems odd because it's like calling a building "art deco house".
1Kaleem4mo
I agree with this point
2levin4mo
I've heard this street name objection a few times (from Kaleem also) and it doesn't make sense to me. Locations are named after the same thing extremely frequently!! Google "Kirkland House." You find Kirkland House. Kirkland Street, about half a mile away, does not come up. Google "Quincy House." You find Quincy House, not Quincy Street, which is even closer. I have never heard of somebody looking for Kirkland House or Quincy House winding up on Kirkland Street or Quincy Street instead. People do not get confused because Dunster House is not on Dunster Street, nor because Eliot House is not on Eliot Street. Nearby things are named after common namesakes all the time. The Charles Hotel and The Charles River do not mess up each other's SEO. This seems like very strong evidence that this will not happen if we name it Prospect when there's also a Prospect Street!
1aL4mo
yeah, if there are secondary filter words, seems fine. though harvard houses have the advantage of notoriety quick non-exhaustive duckduckgoing (less google optimization) * "prospect harvard" -> https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/prospect/ [https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/prospect/] and https://psll.bwh.harvard.edu/prospect/ [https://psll.bwh.harvard.edu/prospect/] * "prospect harvard square" -> no strong signal. SEO friendly. * "prospect cambridge" -> cambridge dictionary and prospect st stuff. * "prospect office" -> location dependent w/ collisions in NYC but not many in Boston (tho some dental offices) * "prospect office cambridge" -> dental group, other misc stuff. SEO friendly. but probably closer to the question of "does it matter" is to do the same searches w/ lightcone * "lightcone" -> wiki for light cone, other stuff * "lightcone offices" OR organization OR company -> https://lightcone.org/en, [https://lightcone.org/en,] https://lightcone.com/, [https://lightcone.com/,] etc. but it does show up! (including this because they seem like likely guesses at a second word) * "lightcone ea" -> other lightcone groups first, though it does get mentioned (not linked) on first page * "lightcone berkeley" -> 3rd option * "lightcone longtermism" -> ding ding ding * "lightcone infrastructure" -> ding ding ding and i think lightcone is a great name! so we'll probably have problems w/ SEO but also if it's not something that could draw in newbies ("will macaskill", "ea" (oof, still can't beat Electronic Arts), or "precipice book") we probably shouldn't axe a decent name because of that.
1levin4mo
Yeah, I guess it's not clear how important SEO is. We can also just tell people the address!
1levin4mo
Oof, good point
  • Harvard Square Horizon. Sounds a bit like a daycare, but horizons are very apt for what we do

 

Yeah I think "Bright Horizons" is a well-known daycare chain 

Syzygy.

It's a great word, it fits the astronomy theme, its meaning has EA significance, a synonym is "alignment," and DC-NYC-Boston-Oxford-London lie on a single great circle!!

I think this is a great suggestion.

But given that "petrichor" was rejected by someone in the 'naming committee' for being too hard to pronounce-from-reading, I'm not sure syzygy is going to fair much better :p

2Zach Stein-Perlman3mo
Hmm, the pronunciation of syzygy is intuitive to me (unlike petrichor with its hard i). But yes, this may be a downside. On the other hand, syzygy is so good... the great-circle thing is an amazing coincidence, and how else can you say alignment with no vowels :D
  • -itas words (that aren't as loaded as Utilitas), including
    • Gravitas
    • Vitalitas: vitality
    • Claritas: means brightness (the English derivative is clarity)
  • Astronomy terms
    • Perihelion
    • Apogee
    • Astrolabe
  • Mythology (add "House" or some other word to the end of these)
    • Daedalus: warned Icarus to not fly too close to the Sun
    • Cassandra: the cursed prophet (oof)
  • Other nouns
    • Spire: looks sorta like a sorted heavy-tailed distribution. Also sounds like "aspire"
    • Cliffside: see above; also Precipice
    • Beacon or Lighthouse: guiding buildings. Also good because the office is near the top of the building.
  • Some fun ones
    • Thinkcubator
    • The Margin at Harvard Square
    • Cambridge EA
    • Turing Testing Center

Daedalus would be great if it weren't for the nearby restaurant. I like Beacon!

Some space-themed words I like:

1. Stardust

2. Aperture

3. Supernova

4. Earthshine

5. Equinox

6. Parallax

7. Planisphere

8. Quasar

9. Sunspot

10. Zenith

Building on the space theme, I like Earthrise, as it has very hopeful vibes, but also points to the famous picture that highlights the fragility and preciousness of earth-based life.

3Linch4mo
Oh yeah that's great.

Equinox is a brand of expensive gyms, so we won't use that one. Zenith is a brand of expensive watches, so same deal there I think. All the other suggests are decent - thanks Linch!

Cambridge Universal Utilities.

"Utilitas." Consequentialist vibes + similarity to Harvard's motto (sorry MIT!).

Do you think we should be leaning into Utilitarianism at a university outreach level?

4Cullen_OKeefe4mo
Plausibly not!
3Sharmake4mo
Not really. EA really shouldn't presume a moral consequentialism approach, just real-world effectiveness.
2Cullen_OKeefe4mo
I would note that advocating for improving utility (a core EA concept!) is not the same thing as utilitarianism.
3Kaleem4mo
yeah but I think you'd just be setting yourself up for an uphill battle having to explain to every 5th person how EA is not a utilitarian movement despite the office name
7Cullen_OKeefe4mo
(I agree)
2Cullen_OKeefe4mo
For a journal! But surely an office can have the same name as a journal? It's just a Latin word!

You could pick the name based on the "what3words" location description. For instance:  https://what3words.com/split.bigger.basket