What’s in a name?

This was going to be in my first post, but thought it was going to get a bit long, so let’s break it up rather.

Why Ant’s World? Well, there are a couple of reasons: firstly – and obviously – it’s short for Anthony, and it’s what my friends call me. (I had to add ‘SA’ behind it because someone got there before me – hardly surprising.)

Secondly, I don’t have a marketing or a politics background. I’m actually a zoologist by training. I did a B.Sc. (Honours) in Zoology at UCT, went to work as a research assistant and project manager on a collaborative research programme between University of the Western Cape and the then-Sea Fisheries Research Institute (now the research division of Marine and Coastal Management), and did most of a Masters before getting too distracted by a job in politics.

Another reason – related to the zoology connection – is that there are some wonderful analogies one can draw from nature about what we do…

I used to think of Discussion Board-style forums (remember when they were the greatest thing since sliced bread?) as internet-based fire hydrants, with users as the neighbourhood dogs. Every time someone new joined the forum and introduced themselves, their message was followed by a string of replies. But, as you know, most people visiting forums are lurkers. They come in, read a few posts, see what it’s all about, and then leave without participating. Someone who takes the time to introduce themselves is saying “I’m here, and this is who I am.” They’re leaving their mark on the community. The replies almost invariably come from the moderators and veterans of the forum – the alpha dogs. It’s almost as if they’re saying, “Welcome to our community… but take note: there is a hierarchy.” I had that thought while walking my mom’s dog one evening many years ago as I watched him sniffing every tree and bush in the neighbourhood and then counter-marking every other dog’s mark (even going through the motions long after he’d entirely emptied his bladder) – reasserting his place in his world.

But ants provide a wealth of analogies. The superorganism of an ant or termite colony is the ultimate model of collaboration and co-creation. How far would a single ant get in building an anthill?

But they co-operate in far more ways than just building a home. An anthill is a food aggregator. Scouts head out in all directions from the colony in search of food (your pioneers), those that find food mark the trail back to the colony with a pheramone telling others to follow their trail back to the site of the food (they Digg it or – in Amatomu-speak – Schmaak it). A few more ants pick up on that trail and follow it to the food source (your early adopters). They then reinforce the trail with their own pheramones, and so the traffic to that site grows…

Anyway, those are the thoughts that occurred to me when I was thinking about the name for my blog. And if an entomologist clicks through to my blog by mistake, now there’ll be something (vaguely) relevant for him/her to read. 🙂


1 Response to “What’s in a name?”

  1. 1 Allan 27 November 2007 at 9:34 pm

    aha! It is the same Ant Hazel from Zoo at UCT 😛

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