With the observatory name change, the LSST Science Platform name is clearly going to be on the chopping block sooner or later.
In an attempt to get ahead of a top-down edict, Wil and I are proposing to call the fairly abstract entity consisting of Science Platform services VERA - back-acronymed to V(era Rubin Observatory) E(nvironment) for R(esearch) and A(nalysis) with the top level page being exposed as vera.rubinobs.org (or whatever we ultimately are). The formal name would be VERA: The Rubin Observatory's Science Platform.
Arguments for this:
- Mindful of the point about showing proper credit to Vera Rubin: A lot of people are not clear who she was, and hence they will see "Rubin Observatory" and perhaps not even realise Rubin was female. Vera is an obviously female name and I think giving it prominence helps the cause.
- The team is pretty desperate for a snappy name/URL and Vera has instant brand appeal as to opposed to something that sounds like an abstract - there's a bit of persistent moaning when other telescopes get to give cool names to their products - I feel this will be good for morale
- This is a flagship leading-edge product for DM, and I think it and the name deserve each other
Frequently Raised Concerns:
While polling LSP team members and users, these are some of the concerns that were expressed, which I list with their follow-up:
- Isn't this sexist? This suggestion has played very well with the team, but someone raised the question of whether this is part of the trend of designating assistants as female (Alexa, Siri, etc). I am personally quite sensitive to this issue (my Siri is male voiced for this reason) and I ran it past a few other female DM members and we all agree this is not the same thing at all - this is a platform of premium technical capabilities, not some breathy voice at your beck and call.
- Too cutesy for the C-level: The directors (Steve and Bob) have responded positively, as has Communications and EPO.
- The family might find this disrespectful: [rgill] has contacted Vera Rubin's son and I understand he was pleased at the suggestion
- What about if the thing is flaky and Vera becomes a four-letter-word? The name will essentially be reflected in reasonably static content (like the LSP home page). Individual services that may be "down" - say the notebook service or TAP are going to be obviously identified as such.
As with all naming RFCs, please keep in mind there is no solution that will satisfy everyone. The primary aim is to get something short, brand-like and that doesn't come across as an abstract written by committee. Remember, if you don't provide a snappy name, people will converge on their own short name because that's how language works.
If you have objections please try and make them falsifiable rather than aesthetic.
If you feel you have a clearly superior suggestion, post it and let's see if it generates an upswell of enthusiasm, but the point here is to avoid National Science Foundation and Department of Energy Vera C Rubin Observatory Science Platform type outcomes before they are visited upon us.