October 5, 2002

Biella and Yella

Category: Personal,Research — Biella @ 3:08 am

I had yet to meet someone with my name, Biella, surprisingly till last night at a Hippiesfromhell (a Dutch hacker group) mega-movie gathering, which was held at Yella’s house. When I first saw the name Yella on the hfh mailing list, I thought, “wow, that sounds a lot like ‘Biella’ only with a Y”. And funny enough, Yella is the structural equivalent of Biella in that it is short for Gabriella (as is Biella). Yella’s parents had heard “Yella” in Belgium and liked it much in the same way that my parents liked Biella over Gabriella when they heard my sister Sylvia christened me with it when I was brought home from the hospital back in 1973.

More than any other day here, I was surrounded by techie-types, programmers, and hackers, starting with a lovely bike ride down the Amstel river with Jim Mintha , a Debian developer who was a gracious host and a great interviewee and then ended the day at Yella and Hanno’s home to watch three really excellent movies all of which had to do with the question of selfhood, friendships, and reality online.

What was it like to spend a day with “the geeks” here in the Netherlands vs. my time with the geeks over in the US and Canada? Well, for the sake of shortness and linguistic play, I think the Yella Vs Biella naming schema is a good metaphor to think about the differences and similarities. Yella is certainly not Biella, yet there is a structural equivalence between the two. They are both shorthand for Gabriella and when anyone said “Yella”, I sort of had to think twice to see whether they were addressing the evening

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