Brad Feld

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I’ve Run Out of Namespace in My Brain

Jun 12, 2009
Category Technology

I’ve never been great with remembering names the first time I meet someone.  I’ve tried all the usual tricks and haven’t found one that works.  For me, it’s a matter of regular meeting – eventually I’ll start to remember your name.

The most embarrassing part is forgetting the names of spouses that I work with.  For whatever reason, I only have room in my brain for one of the two names (gender doesn’t matter).  I’ve solved this by referring to wives as “Tifanny” and husbands as “Herman”.  So far, 100% of the time, I get the correct name out of the spouse, along with a chuckle.  I figure that on the day that I don’t, that person’s name is actually either Tiffany or Herman.

For a while I managed to associated names with images of people in my head and use that to help me a little.  I realized that all the faces on the Internet has completely ruined this for me.  The namespace in my brain is now full of name:image pairs and – in addition to no longer having room for names, I no longer have room for images either.  I went to the Apple Store the other day and asked for some extra memory, but they didn’t have a type that was technically compatible with my brain.

So – please don’t be offended when I call you Tiffany or Herman.  More importantly, when you come up to me and say hi, if you don’t get a “hey <correct name>” back, remind me of your name and affiliation.  If it’s comfortable, I’ll often say “remind me who you are”, although there are many circumstances where this either doesn’t work or I forget.

As Tim discovered the other day, if you say “hi, I’m Tim” enough times, I’ll eventually replace some other name:image pair in my brain with yours.