Posted on Leave a comment

Federal Naming Conventions, EDA’s i6 Challenge, the Future of Innovation, and the Ministry of Silly Walks

Carefully study this screenshot of EDA’s website for the i6 Challenge:

Bear in mind that the purpose of the i6 program is “to support groundbreaking ideas in science and technology,” and ideally to fund really innovative stuff (in this respect it’s like i3 or any number of federal programs). But you might notice something funny about the screenshot: whoever designed the website either didn’t test it in Firefox or didn’t test it in Firefox for OS X. This is pretty funny, since Firefox is the web browser of choice for geeks and basically restarted the development of web browsers in general after Microsoft decided they’d won with Internet Explorer 6 and didn’t have to do anything anymore. And, as Paul Graham points out, lots of hackers are using Macs again.

In other words, lots of people at the forefront of technology are probably using the very tools that aren’t being tested for by a program designed to appeal to people at the forefront of technology.

The other funny thing about this program is the name, especially because we just had the the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) program from the Department of Education, to which i6 is completely unrelated, despite sharing a similar name. It raises a number of questions, like whether there is any limit to the number of programs with “i” in them, whether those programs must be a multiple of 3, or why the letter “i” is so much more popular than its close siblings “h” and “j.” We’re also apparently missing i1 – i2 and i4 – i5, which is a bit like HUD’s Hope VI. What happened to the rest of the HOPE programs, like V?

Anyway, this mixture of numbers and faux acronyms and what not makes me think there should be a ministry of federal program names, related to the ministry of silly walks:

(Sample dialog: “I have a silly walk, and I’d like to obtain a government grant to help me develop it.”)