Decoding Omega

More mystery than it deserves.The question has come up from time to time: Why Omegaword? It came up again this week, so this is probably as good a time as any to throw out a few examples.

Most people are familiar with the finality aspect of the last letter of the Greek alphabet, most notably in connection with the biblical book of Revelation. More recently, the subject of Omega-3 fatty acids in the context of human health has elevated the omega term in the popular consciousness, but I had neither of those connections in mind when Omegaword was incubated.

For me, both the upper and lowercase version of the letter have special significance, because both are used in electrical theory, which is one of my favorite subjects. The more familiar uppercase form is used as the symbol for resistance to electrical current, while the lowercase represents angular velocity, which, in turn, is used for calculating things like reactance, which is the imaginary part of impedance, which is a complex quantity, which is where things become irrational, which is why I'm fond of it. Like the square root of a negative number, it speaks to my inner geek, but in a nonlinear way that also gets the attention of my inner philosopher. Everyone is happy.

So there's the electrical/mathematical angle. Of course, the letter is used as a symbol in a variety of disciplines—not just electrical theory—but I happen to be most familiar with its use in that realm.

One of my favorite applications of the Omega Word concept comes via Steve Whealton, who, it seems, is very interested in patterns.

Something that my musical and my visual work have in common is maintaining a proper balance between sameness and randomness. I am forever looking for new, interesting, and different ways to create patterns, to alter patterns, to merge patterns, and to render and manifest patterns in ways audible and visible.

Although his use of the term has nothing to do with writing—blogs or otherwise—I've always been more than a little intrigued by patterns, too.

A given set of rules are applied over and over so as to produce, in theory at least, a string that can go on forever! This "infinite" string goes by the provocative name, the "Omega Word."

Provocative it is. And also very cool, as only infinity can be.

So there you have it, in a nutshell. Although it's certainly possible to assign all manner of meaning to it, I like omega for its own sake. I suppose I could go out on a limb and suggest that any words I've left on the Omegaword blog are likely to outlive me, barring some catastrophic, Web-destroying event, that is. Web servers are generally robust, but all bets are off if, say, our sun decides to go supernova in the near future. In that case, the concept of last words—final words—may indeed require a very literal interpretation.



  1. You wrote: "Provocative it is. And also very cool, as only infinity can be." I think "cool as infinity" may enter my lexicon!

  2. I like! Cucumbers used to be cool, but they just can't compete with infinity.