There is an old joke about a Yorkshireman asking a stone mason to inscribe his wife’s headstone with “Lord she was thine”. He returns to find the completed stone bearing the inscription “Lord she was thin”. “You’ve missed the e off”, he tells the mason. To this day the stone reads, “Eee Lord, she was thin”.
One cannot help thinking that a similar breakdown in communication led to the creation of eLoran, the planned terrestrial back-up to satellite navigation.
A brief discussion around the table at a recent INC16 planning meeting exposed the heart of the matter. In this age of innovation and the sharing economy there is a wide held view that if there is a real demand for a service someone will invent a way of delivering it and collecting the revenue. Good ideas emerge; it is the job of governments to encourage them.
Although most people would agree that some things can only be run by the state – defence, healthcare and transport infrastructure fall into this camp – such things are not popular. If the process involves negotiating international standards and spectrum the popularity falls further.
To those who think this way, the old Loran system represents the old economy. New navaids need new names. So why use Loran with or without the e? Officials have been putting the red pen through the word for years.
Invent a new word. Make it a misspelling of a real name and the dot-com domain will be cheap. Names like Lorane, Arleno or Elanor have a good ring to them.
But Loran will not win many new-economy friends. If eLoran finds itself Loaner it might all be in a name.
Now, remind me what the technical issues are?