I was recently talking to Paul about the IBIS conference and I asked him how they came up with the name. He turned to me and that smile he is famous for slowly spread across his face. He leaned in close to me and in a low almost conspirator like tone said. “I got the name from Thoth.” He smiled again and off he went, leaving me wondering.
Well, you probably already know that Paul is an Egyptologist. He loves the history, the mythology, the art, and the culture of ancient Egypt. I knew that, but I didn’t know exactly who Thoth was. So I asked my son Josh who also absolutely loves all things historical and mythological. This is what he told me.
Thoth is the Egyptian god of Knowledge, Wisdom, Language, and Education. It was said that he brought himself into existence with the power of language and that he could change completely the nature of something by altering its name.
It is him that, in mythology, taught hieroglyphics so that learning can more easily be passed down through the centuries. He taught mankind how to tell stories that would carry lessons about the way of things. Thoth created Medicine to tend to the sick and is often credited with the invention of Music. He wrote Law into being and handed it down to humanity.
A duty he treasured was that of maintaining the Library of the gods, and it was him alone who was deemed wise enough to pass judgment on the dead and inscribe their names in the halls of Ma’at, the Balance. The Book of Thoth contained all the secrets of the universe. Egyptian Funerary rites – the process of mummification – were his design, to better ease the dead into their new afterlives.
When Set murdered Osiris, it was Thoth who aided in his resurrection. In art, he is depicted primarily as a tall, thin man in the robes of a priest, with the head of an Ibis, and it is considered his sacred bird.
When you think about it the answer is obvious. Thoth is the Egyptian god of knowledge. He knows the secrets of the “universe” and loved to share this knowledge with others. His head was an IBIS and that is how he is represented. IBIS the conference is also all about sharing love and knowledge to the BusinessObjects community.
The next time I saw Paul I told him I now understood why the conference was named IBIS, but I had one more question. So I asked, “I know the I in IBIS is InfoSol. The BI is Business Intelligence. What does the S stand for?” He laughed and said, “Well the S has stood for many things over the last 12 years, but that is a story for another day.”
So when you see Paul at IBIS and have more than a couple of minutes, ask him about his love of Egypt and Egyptology. Better yet, ask him what the S in IBIS means and if he tells you, will you let me know too?