(There’s a game at the end of this post.)

    Entities in the world go by many names. For example, if you stay at the Westin, the Sheraton, or the W, you may have a Starwood card. So you may even know that they are part of “Starwood Hotels“. But you probably don’t go around talking about the full name “Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.” all the time. Even in semi-official documents, the “Inc” might get dropped. Then again, it might get spelled out.

    Similarly, you may have a perfectly fine full name that few people address you by. Even your first name may have variants. And sometimes you drive off into the northern Nevada desert and are hailed as Goddess Sparkle Pony or you answer to the appellation GLUTEN.

    Wait, what?

    Here’s the deal, everyone. This week San Francisco is a bit empty because so many people have gone to Burning Man—a kind of chaotic community/art/party thing. 68,000 people are there. You can check out its governing principles, but my favorite description is “Dadaist temporary autonomous zone”. None of us working at Idibon are in the desert but we salute all the makers and creators, whatever degree of dusty or dapper.

    Burning Man 2010

    At any rate, rather than just tell you about automatically detecting named entities and disambiguating them, I’m going to compare and contrast Burning Man camp names with the names of organizations in the S&P 1500. And since Seamus Heaney just died, I’m going to focus on alliteration.

    For the data, I’m analyzing the 910 Burning Man camps that have publicly registered. Most of these camps have names that are two or three words (median words: 2, median characters: 15).

    There are 143 one-word camps (Mystopia, DISORIENT, Homojitoville). That’s 15.7% of all the names.

    How about corporations in the S&P 1500? While I can take the Burning Man camp names largely as-is, I decided to clean up the corporation names. For example, I’ve ditched “Corp” and “Inc”. 463 of the corporations have one-word names. These are things like Accenture, AutoZone, Clorox, Comcast, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Safeway, and Starbucks. About 30.9% of corporations in the S&P 1500 have essentially single-word names.

    Since creativity is a huge component of Burning Man, we expect names may be more likely to be rhyming, punning, or alliterative. Let’s look at alliteration: how typical are Barbarella Bootcamp, Santa’s Summer Sleigh, Pretty Pickle and (my favorite), Blood Bath & Beyond?

    Alliteration and named entity recognition for Burning Man and the S&P 1500

    Let’s start with the two-word camps. There are 335 of these. I’m going to be medium-strict on what counts as alliteration. We’re going to use sounds, so although Chainsawmargaritaguys Camp has a two words and both begin with “c”, one is a /ch/ sound and the other is a /k/ sound. Doesn’t count. Meanwhile, Swing City does count since both of those initial letters are pronounced as /s/. If I wanted to be even stricter, I would insist that alliteration only counts if it’s on the stressed syllable. But I’m not going to do that here.

    How many of the two-word Burning Man camps alliterate? 43, which is 12.8% of all the two-word camps. Doesn’t seem that high but it’s twice the rate of the S&P 1500. Of the 668 two-word corporations, only 37 alliterate (5.54%). These are things like Aqua America, Best Buy, and Coca-Cola—I treated hyphens as spaces throughout. By the way, Aqua America is utilities not water parks. Disappointing.

    There are 231 three-word Burning Man Camps. For alliteration here, I’m flexible and count first-and-third-but-not-necessarily-second. So not just Porta-Potty Pigs and Karma Collectors Camp, but things like Broken Angel Bathhouse and Burners Without Borders, too. 27% of three-word camps involve some alliteration.

    The S&P 1500 have 293 three-word corporations. The corporations—or Standard and Poor’s postmodern poets—don’t like alliteration all that much. Only 12.6% of the three-word corporations have alliterative names. So congratulatory kudos to Martin Marietta Materials, Fidelity National Financial, Johnson & Johnson, and Wolverine World Wide (although I am not comfortable with “Wide”).

    I’ll wrap up with a quick overview of the sounds that Burners like best. They’ve already been coming through. There are 28 names using the /k/ sound and 23 using the /b/ sound. You’ve seen some already, here are some more:

    • Camp Canadianderthal
    • Cartoon Commune
    • Celtic Chaos
    • First Kiss Café
    • Conscious Monkey Clan
    • Camp Kegel Kommandos
    • Botanica Bodhi Manman nan Bejeezus
    • Barechested Baristas
    • Bubbles and Bass

    The /k/ and /b/ sounds get a boost from the fact that Burning Man occurs at Black Rock and the groups are thought of as camps.

    For corporations, /s/ is the winner (but only 11), followed by /k/ sounds (10 of them) and a bit more distantly by /b/ (7).

    • Sovran Self Storage
    • Spartan Stores
    • Kansas City Southern
    • State Street
    • Calgon Carbon
    • Cooper Companies
    • Bed Bath & Beyond
    • Boston Beer

    A name game

    I’ll send you off with a game. “SmallCap corporation or Playa playground?” I feel like I have neglected vowels. So I’ll just stick to “a”s.

    • Aaon
    • Abaxis
    • Aegoin
    • Arctic Cat
    • Almost Family
    • Aar
    • Allete
    • Amsurg
    • Arbitron
    • Arqule
    • Atmi
    • Actuant
    • Avista
    • Aerovironment
    • Anixter
    • Azz

    Happy Friday!

    – Tyler Schnoebelen (@TSchnoebelen)


      Burning Man 2007

      Tyler Schnoebelen

      Tyler finds the patterns in data that make it meaningful. He has ten years of experience in UX design/research in Silicon Valley and a PhD from Stanford. His work there included experimental psycholinguistics, fieldwork on endangered languages, and a dissertation on emotion (he got his BA at Yale studying playwriting and poetry). His insights on social media have been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, and NPR. He is incorrigible.

      3 thoughts on “Naming camps and corporations

      1. Jill Tomkins says:

        Aaon CORP
        Abaxis CORP
        Aegoin CORP
        Arctic Cat CAMP
        Almost Family CAMP
        Aar CAMP of Pirates
        Allete CORP
        Amsurg CORP
        Arbitron CAMP
        Arqule CAMP
        Atmi CAMP
        Actuant CORP
        Avista CORP
        Aerovironment CORP
        Anixter CORP
        Azz CAMP

        How’d I do? (And what’s the prize!?)

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