What is a Maven?

Washing Machine

A few years ago, a friend of mine described me as a maven.

“A what?” I said.

“A maven.  It’s an old Hebrew word,” he explained.  “A maven is someone who, if they need to buy a washing machine, will really do their homework.  They’ll read best-buy guides, they’ll compile a shortlist based on reviews from experts, they’ll compare every detail of the most promising machines (the load capacity, the power consumption, the water consumption), factoring in their needs and the price of every machine and come to a clear decision about which one represents the best value for money.  They won’t necessarily buy the cheapest, or the most expensive.  They’ll buy the absolute best one in their price range.”

“Mmm… yeah, that would be me!” I laughed.  His description was spot on.

“I’ve learnt,” he continued, “that if you ever get a recommendation from a maven (eg. for a particular washing machine), they are worth listening to!”

I smiled.  My friend has a way of making you feel valued.  I’ve learnt a great deal from him over the years.

A maven is someone who does their homework.

It might not be the official definition, but I’m sticking with my friend’s version.  A maven is someone who “does their homework”.  More recently, I decided to look up the definition of a maven.  Many dictionaries simply define a maven as an “expert”.  However, Wikipedia states that a maven is “a trusted expert… who seeks to pass knowledge on to others”.  I wasn’t so keen on this definition – it sounds rather pompous!  The “passing knowledge on to others” bit does fit me very well though, what with my background in teaching.

So when it came to choosing a company name, I knew it had to have Maven in the title.  I wanted a company that would embody the qualities of a maven.  That whatever we made, we would make the best it could be (within our price range!).

What about you?  Would you consider yourself a maven?  Do you know any mavens?

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Jonathan Hicks

Jonathan is the director of Maven Games. He blogs and records podcast episodes several times a week. Whenever he isn't doing anything else, he designs games.

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