What is the Deal with Our Name?

Posted by Adam Pieniazek | Introduction | May 4th, 2009

When meeting new clients or networking with other business owners and freelancers, the question of what our name means comes up often. We admit, it is a bit obtuse and references a geeky book that not everyone has read, so today we’ll explain our name a bit and hopefully help alleviate some of the confusion around it.

The Fourth Estate

One of our main goals here at The 42nd Estate is to empower individuals and businesses to become their own media machine. In the past, we all had to rely on newspapers, magazines, television, radio and other indirect forms of communication to market our brands. Today, with blogs and social media we can all become our own marketing force.

The fourth estate is a term used to reference the press. The use of estates began as a form of castes, a way to divide up society into various partitions. The first estate was the clergy, the second estate was nobility and the third estate was the commoners, or the proletariat.

The earliest recorded use of the term the fourth estate came in Thomas Carlyle’s book, On Heroes and Hero Worship in which he quoted a British politician, Thomas Burke, as saying:

there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.

The quote was meant to show that the media was becoming more powerful than all the other estates. As the years have passed we’ve seen the media grow even more powerful than they were in the 19th century when the term came into existence. Today, the media is arguably the most important and powerful force in our society. Though they set no laws, we rely on them to report to the rest of society on what lawmakers are doing and act as a check and balance of our political system. Without an active media and an involved citizenry, our government has no reigns and no limits.

42 is the answer

The number 42 has entered geek folklore ever since being used by Douglas Adams in his series of books entitled The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In the first book in the series a planet of super intelligent beings decide to build a supercomputer to discover the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. The supercomputer, aptly called Deep Thought, spends the next 7.5 million years crunching the data. Finally, Deep Thought announces it has analyzed all the data and computed the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything [link is to this scene from the film version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy].

In a grand ceremony before most of the planet’s population, Deep Thought is asked by the planet’s most respected scientists what is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?

Rather than answering the question myself, let’s Google the term, answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

After running that query, the Google calculator returns the answer:

The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

Of course, it’s 42! It is an example of the dry but witty humor that is built into nearly every page of Douglas Adams’ science fiction comedy. It’s a great read and to this day remains the only book that’s ever made me literally laugh out loud.

When brainstorming ideas for our company name, all of us realized that our goal was to empower individuals and companies to become their own fourth estate. With blogs and social media the power to control your brand and market it effectively using the web is finally being realized. All of our members are big fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as well and since we realize that blogs and social media will likely never actually overtake the fourth estate, we decided calling ourselves The 42nd Estate was a nice way to describe what we do while also giving a nod to one of our favorite authors. We believe in the power of comedy here at The 42nd Estate and think it’s a great way to connect with your customers and breathe life into your brand.

Hopefully this post will help answer the big question we constantly hear, what’s the deal with your name?


3 Responses to “What is the Deal with Our Name?”

  1. What is the Deal with Our Name? http://bit.ly/jEH9Y

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. @The42ndEstate Pleased to meet you & learned something new: http://bit.ly/114jpD

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. […] call yourself something crazy/odd/strange/atypical make sure you like it. It’s a big reason we’re OK with The 42nd Estate as our company name, though it does create confusion and isn’t the most intuitive name in the world, but we like […]

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