What Does Gnomedex Mean?

Christopher “The Name Inspector” Johnson did an accurate gnomenclature of our conference brand today

To understand this name, you first need to know (if you don’t already) that the conference is run by Lockergnome, the brand under which net entrepreneur Chris Pirillo and his associates do all their stuff. That’s where the Gnome- part comes from. The -dex part, of course, is a reference to COMDEX, a big computer trade show that took place every year between 1979 and 2003. COMDEX got too big and then hurt feelings in the media world in 1999 when it made its press admission criteria overly exclusive, and has never recovered from the resulting backlash. It’s currently in a state of limbo.


The name Gnomedex can be thought of as a blend of Lockergnome + COMDEX. Because Gnomedex does not, unfortunately, mean ‘Gnome Dealers’ Exposition’, the ending -dex in this name has lost its acronymical (yes, that’s a completely made-up word) function and is only used to set up an analogy to COMDEX.

Damn, this guy is good. I gotta find out if we can get permission to use his full description on the official Gnomedex Web site (which may be managed through one of those event Web site builders next time, as I have all of ’em vying for our attention as of late).

Gnomedex makes that allusion both to show that it’s the name of a conference and to distinguish that conference from the fallen trade show. Gnomedex is what COMDEX was not: small, a bit loosely organized, and focused on attendees and not at all on vendors. It’s a bold and interesting naming strategy, evoking something negative in order to distinguish yourself from it. We also see this strategy in the name YouTube, which plays on the derogatory term boob tube to distinguish itself from ordinary TV. The strategy might be summed up as, “This is in the same category as X, but it’s in a class by itself”. And Gnomedex is indeed–it’s a strong brand in the technology world. Lots of people, The Name Inspector included, think of it as one of the most interesting tech conferences around.

Okay, now I really want him to edit the Wikipedia page for Gnomedex (and would someone please replace that god-awful photo of me while they’re at it?). I’ve only quoted parts of his entire piece, but it’s well worth a read if you’ve always been curious about what it is we do. Thanks, Christopher!