I began to think about the power of names early on when the website I was using to define some of the most obscure vocabulary made the point that the name Case might derive from how his body is no more than a case for his mind, just like the physical housing of a computer has little to do with the actual content. I think this reading into his name has merit, though, as multiple blog entries already attest to, Case's relationship with his body is quite complex.
I next began to think about names in the context of computer science. From what I remember from my one semester of the class (THOSE WHO KNOW BETTER, PLEASE COMMENT AND CORRECT!), some of the most important proofs in computer science involve referring to programs by a 'name' that's actually their entire content (written out in assembly language, the string of 1s and 0s). Knowing the assembly language string of a program fully describes everything the program is and does (at least until programs develop some kind of consciousness and/or the issue of 'souls' gets involved...). In this context, a true name carries a certain power over a program that we can perhaps extend to the AIs in Neuromancer.
Throughout the novel, Gibson makes it clear that names carry much importance with passages like "To call up a demon you must learn its name. Men dreamed that, once, but now it is real in another way. You know that, Case. Your business is to learn the names of programs, the long formal names, names the owners seek to control. True names..." (243). The 'power of true names' motif abounds from fantasy (in Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, 'magic' derives from knowing the true names of things) to the Bible (the ancient Hebrew or Greek etymology of different names is often hugely revealing). I like the idea of connecting the ascribed importance of 'true names' to the origination of language itself (thanks wikipedia )!
So (and I hope we can get into this tomorrow), what might be some of the meaning behind some of the names in the book?