Most of us have heard of Linden Lab’s Project Sansar, the confirmed codename for the next generation virtual world they will begin alpha testing later this year. Some have shown their disapproval for the name, even as a temporary working title.
I see it differently.
A code name for a project is temporary by nature – so it really isn’t anything to get too fussed about. Still, one could argue that a codename / project name can telegraph the thinking going on within the walls of 945 Battery Street. The name is unlikely to stick, but what if it did?
I think it would work, and here is why:
- It’s unique. Apart from being the name of an 19th century Indian ruler and a few unremarkable films, the name is relatively unknown.
- The dot-com TLD looks easy to acquire. Linden Lab may not yet own the top-level domain, but the current owner is a company called VIXII Domain Holdings, which I assume is in the business of buying and selling domains.
- It’s easy to type and pronounce. Being short and phonetic, sansar.com is easy to type correctly. Composed of only four different letters, it’s super easy to type, and avoids what usability experts suggest are harder letters to type (“q,” “z,” “x,” “c,” and “p”). That’s pretty important for internet-based acquisition, which I’d expect would be the number one channel apart from existing SL users.
- It’s easy to remember. The easier a name comes to mind, the more it will be remembered and that is good for word of mouth and directed searchers on Google.
- It’s short. Again, the shorter a name, the better it will be for both typing and unaided brand recall.
- It feels right. It might be lost on most, but as Strawberry Singh pointed out in a tweet, Sansar means “world” in Sanskrit. I don’t know about that, but I read it comes from the word Saṃsāra, which in Sanskrit refers to reincarnation, or the repeating cycle of birth, life and rebirth – according to the Wiki entry. It also apparently means ferret in Turkish. I don’t think that matters a jot. Sure, some names translate terribly into other languages, but I can imagine a lot worse things than a ferret. It also has a historical link to first continent in SL, Sansara, and a derivative of the name was once considered the possible name for Second Life.
- It’s protectable. It’s not copyrighted according to Copyright.gov, and it’s already trademarked by Linden Lab.
- It carries no baggage. I think it’s smart not to choose Second Life 2, Third Life, or any derivative of Second Life. This is a new product that will either succeed or fail on its own merits, it’s not a sequel.
- It’s a place, not a life. Second Life has often been associated with “another life”, which – I believe – has been one of the reasons people unfamiliar with it question those who engage in it with the often heard question: “what’s wrong with your first life?” In reality, we only ever have one life, regardless of how immersed or dissociated we might become. I have always been more comfortable with the place analogy than the notion of a parallel existence.
- It’s exotic, likable and visually extendable. In other words, it suggests a visual interpretation of an exotic holiday destination full of palm treed tropical islands (hey, if it’s going to look like Second Life at all, how apt!) so it would be a field day for creative execution.
Granted, there are some drawbacks; every name has them. I also believe that there is likely a better name out there. Nevertheless, Sansar would be a good name for the kind of product that Linden Lab might be cooking up. After all, who else could visit a place called Sansar but avatars? Avatar, incidentally, is another Sanskrit word, meaning a deliberate descent of a deity to earth – a representation or embodiment of the gods – which in the case of virtual worlds, is us.