Yahoo, Dublin and Gulliver

Lorcan 1 min read

I never hear Yahoo! without hearing Gulliver’s Travels. I don’t know whether the name Yahoo in Swift’s work influenced the choice of the Internet company’s name – the Wikipedia article on Swift’s Yahoo claims it did.
This is the context of John Naughton’s remarks about the announcement that Yahoo’s European operations will be based in Dublin (Ireland):

The most interesting thing about the hoo-hah, however, was the absence of any reference to the man who first invented the word ‘Yahoo’ — Jonathan Swift, the great satirist who was Dean of St patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and the author of Gulliver’s Travels. If any of the clowns participating in the press conference had been literate I would have suspected them of leaving out Swift on purpose. After all, he described the Yahoos as “a species of animals utterly incapable of amendment by precept or example”, which is not a bad description of Fianna Fail, the dominant party in the government in which Mr Martin serves. But somehow I think that sheer philistinism provides the more plausible explanation of the lacuna. [Memex 1.1]

John Naughton is a professor at the Open University, who among other things writes an Internet column for the Observer. A long time ago, he was the Observer‘s TV critic, at which time he belonged to that small group of journalists whose column alone is justification enough for getting the paper to which they contribue.

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