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Issue 9

Like much of the tech world, I learned about Google’s new programming language yesterday, and listened to the tech talk on it before going to sleep last night.

This morning, an engineer at Facebook started a discussion thread on the language. That’s when I learned about the now famous “Issue 9“: In short, there is already is a language named Go! (as compared to Google’s chosen name, ‘go’). In the somewhat rancorous discussion that followed, one recurring theme emerged: ‘go’ is a bad name for a language, and “Issue 9” (or perhaps Issue9) should be the new name. Robert Greiner wrote a good post about this. In a similar vein, here is why I think a name change is in order:

  1. ‘go’ is a poor name choice for a programming language, and of all companies, Google should understand this: ‘go’ is a too-common word that will make search results almost useless (try a search for “debug go”). Even with well-established languages with poor names such as C, searches can be troublesome.
  2. As I mentioned before, there is already a language named Go! To stay in line with their “Don’t be evil” mantra, Google shouldn’t squash the little guy, which they are perfectly capable of doing here.
  3. There is an epic marketing opportunity for Google here. Many people and the press will love it if Google renames their brand new language in order to do the right thing. At the same time, they can deal with the fact that ‘go’ is a poor name to begin with.
  4. ‘Issue 9’ or ‘Issue9’ — abbreviated i9 either way — is a good name for a language that incorporates a computer science idea but is still generic (but not too generic!)
  5. There is already a groundswell of support for the Issue 9 name.
  6. Issue 9 would not have any search engine name collisions.
  7. Others have already suggested incorporating the new name into language constructs. For example the keyword ‘go’ could be replaced (or aliased by) ‘issue’ — this even makes sense!

I hope that Google makes the right choice without litigation. Even if Google doesn’t make the right choice, I hope there is not litigation — it doesn’t actually help anyone in this case. The creator of Go! has gained more publicity through this than a lifetime of toil would have gotten, so in a way he should be grateful. There is no other way most people who are now aware of his language would have heard about it otherwise. I want Google to do the right thing, but even if they don’t, I think legally it should end there.

Finally, I will give mad props to Google — and I promise to learn the language — if they change the name to Issue 9.

One Response to “Issue 9”

  1. Jim Says:

    Are you aware of the Bell Labs “Plan 9” language/environment? As I remember, it was named after a really, really bad Sci-Fi movie called “Plan 9 from Outer Space” that became a cult film because it was so bad.

    Now that I look, it seems Plan 9 is more of a system or environment than a programming language.

    A reviewer writes:
    This film is one of the greatest bad movies ever made. I have viewed “Plan 9 from Outer Space” on numerous occasions. In fact, at times I have grown weary of the movie and avoided it for a year or two. I eventually feel the need to watch it again and pull the DVD off the shelf. Though I can remember many parts of it scene for scene, the experience is one I will never outgrow – especially when my repeat viewing is done with someone else who has never seen it before.
    So there it is.


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