What’s in a name?

You may be wondering what is up with our name? Is it just a funny made-up word? Is it just a lame attempt to coin a new phrase?

Even though, yes, it is a made-up word, it is a made-up word made with much intention. We created it through a lengthy process that involved a lot of research and deliberating around the naming process. A big part of naming a thing is that it needs to communicate SO much in such a small package. We wanted the name to speak to what this publication represents and to convey our unique purpose. Not a small task.

First, here is a breakdown of the name itself:

Future + Algorithmic = Futurithmic

Our editorial focus is to cover emerging technologies, shining a light on the many implications of the decisions we’re making today and how these decisions affect people’s lives tomorrow. The name needed to say that we’re excited about this technology, but cautiously excited.

The number of naming rounds we went through was almost comical as were many of the suggestions put forward. At one point, there were dozens of people showing up to throw in their two cents, all of them well-intentioned, but not familiar enough with the mission. Beyond needing to convey our purpose, the name needed to satisfy three key elements. It needed to be:

We went through so many iterations, spreadsheets and brainstorms. Nothing seemed to pass the searchable/memorable/available test and, when it did, there would be something else that didn’t sit quite right.

We even found something that we liked and seemed to work, only to have it fall apart because of a trademark squatter.

A breakthrough!

We were putting together our editorial strategy and even starting to reach out to writers and still had the name TBD on all of our materials. We even started to joke that this may be the most appropriate name of all! It had many of the right characteristics, including the flavor of the publication.

But then we came across this definition in researching an article:

Algorithmic Thinking:

A method for solving problems based on the clear definition of the steps needed.

Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Fourth Edition

…and the lightbulb came on!

You may be familiar with the term algorithmic thinking as it is known in computational circles. It’s often expressed as IF-THEN (and IF-THEN-ELSE). IF you do something, THEN this will happen. IF is the condition and THEN is the outcome or consequence.

It’s a beautifully simple equation and describes the kind of intentional thinking we are doing with this publication. As an example of the condition and consequence:

IF we prioritize business growth over privacy concerns THEN we’ll end up with a world that looks like Minority Report.

When we saw the definition, it struck us like a ton of bricks. THIS IS IT! What we’re doing here is the social science version of algorithmic thinking. We’re exploring the consequences of the various conditions so that we can take more intentional steps towards the best possible future.

IF we create a space for the discussion of the very real implications of today’s tech on tomorrow’s world, THEN we could help the leaders of today make better decisions!

Our lofty goals aside, we pulled together the phrase Algorithmic Future, then flipped it around to say Future Algorithmic before we saw that it flowed together quite nicely as Futurithmic.

It also helped that there were absolutely ZERO instances of the term “futurithmic” in search results or hashtags online, which, frankly NEVER happens. So, yeah, that’s pretty cool, too.

The coast was clear on December 17

Of course, it’s not exactly perfect. Many people aren’t familiar with the term algorithmic thinking and others assume it refers to a musical term: as in rhythmic  (side project?). But it’s perfectly ours and it continues to grow on me every time I see it in the wild.


P.S. Be sure to use our hashtag #intentionalfuture and you can help us grow the adoption of this thinking by visiting our media kit and spreading the word.